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Library Bureau Cat. No. 1137 SPL 



THE EBONY IDOL. 



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"THE RECEPTION.' 



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THE 



EBONY IDOL. 



" It is the land of graven images, and they are mad upon their idols." 

Jeremiah. 



NEW YORK: 
D. APPLETON & COMPANY, 

443 & 445 BROADWAY. 
1860. 



Enteked, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1860, by 

D. APPLETON & COMPANY, 

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York. 



P51-L75 



Fsi 



THE EBONY IDOL. 



CHAPTEE I. 

" Chief master-gunner am I of this town ; 
Something I must do to procure me grace."— Henry V. 

My dear Reader — allow me to introduce to your 
distinguished consideration, the Hev. Mr. Cary. 

You will please excuse the gentleman's preoccupa- 
tion and indifference to introductory etiquette, since he 
has not the faintest intimation that he is the individual 
introduced. He does, and always will, suppose it to be 
some other Mr. Cary. He might have been the posses- 
sor of Titbottom's magical spectacles all the days of 
his life, without dreaming of the imperfections of his 
own heart, or experiencing one longing desire to see 
himself as others see him 1 

But we do not wish to criticize the gentleman in his 
innocent ignorance of our proximity. 

Mr. Cary, as you perceive, is seated in his old arm- 
1 



State University of Iowa 



THE EBONY IDOL. 



chair, in the home parlor of the Parsonage. See how 
cheerily the rock-maple fire roars and glows behind the 
polished brasses ! How the fire-light dances out co- 
quettishly over the tidy hearth, casting a whole flood 
of radiance on the occupant of the chair ; flying onward 
to the book-case in the corner ; struggling faintly toward 
the curtains, and suddenly retreating, curls down be- 
hind the wooden sticks, while small jets of gaudy-col- 
ored flame peep cautiously upward, as if playing at bo- 
peep with some other maple fire ! 

The door opens, and a little girl glides in with a 
pair of faded slippers, which she quietly deposits upon 
the hearth, and without speaking, for she divines her 
father's mood ; lays her dimpled cheek upon his shoul- 
der, and encircles his neck with her arm. 

Mechanically the father enfolds her in a caress, but 
his eyes still pry into the glowing embers, and his brow 
knits for itself another wrinkle. 

As he sits there, with his shadow thrown upon the 
white wall by the warm fire-light, we gaze at liim 
thoughtfully, as at another of those wondrous studies 
in God's inexhaustible studio, where, like the child 
vainly striving to match the fancy-grass in the garden, 
we weary ourselves in futile efforts to trace in feature 
or spirit the counterpart of a fellow-mortal ! 

The rough outlines, the compressed lips, and muscu- 
lar frame, are each indicative of decision, and the firm- 
est of wills. Phrenologically we are warned, that log- 



THE EBONY IDOL. 6 

ical combat may be profitably left alone, and to retire 
with precipitancy whenever that gentleman approaches 
an argument or a hobby ! If there is any one fact es- 
tablished by Mr. Cary as a mental fixture, it is a con- 
viction of his personal infallibility of judgment and 
action. Slow and skeptical in his recognition of modern 
innovations, his heart softens reluctantly, and his de- 
cisions close upon his reason with more unrelenting in- 
carceration, than iron doors and bolts upon the victim 
of crime. 

Ignorant of the vices which dig such fatal pits for 
the feet of our young men, Mr. Cary's life had been 
invulnerable to temptation. Although pinched by 
poverty, and early thrown upon his own resources, he 
had nevertheless struggled through a respectable edu- 
cation, firmly keeping aloof from debt, and while he 
did not hesitate to earn an honest penny by manual 
labor, he was too manly-hearted to lean for support 
upon the Female Charitable Associations, which, for 
• some unaccountable reason, seem indispensable to the 
interests of modern theology ! 

Mr. Cary's initiation to the duties of the ministry 
had commenced at the mature period of thirty years, 
at which time he had been called to assume the pastoral 
charge of the church in Minden. We say the church, 
for, though there were other churches in Minden, yet 
the bulk of the people there were admirably Presbytojgs 
rian ; an exemplary body of Christians, who had, many 



4 THE EBONY IDOL. 

of them, been born in the same town, baptized at the 
same font, played together in childhood, intermarried, 
and with blended interests and affections, grown stronger 
and wiser ; regarding the Church as the most holy and 
impregnable fortress, to which humanity can flee for 
succor in this world, or safety in that to come. 

The aged Pastor, who had labored an honest life ■ 
away, and been laid to rest where the white marble 
gleams out its simple inscription of his many virtues, 
was the only Shepherd the Flock had known, 
until, having borne him upon their own shoulders to 
his burial, they had invited Mr. Cary to become the re- 
cipient of his sacred mantle. 

If they had loved the stranger less, their reverence 
for ministerial sanctity was unabated ; and it is a ques- 
tion whether any Romish Pope ever swayed a more in- 
fluential sceptre over the minds of his followers. To 
consult the minister, was the first step toward the 
adoption of all infringements upon old-established cus- 
toms; and if, shaking his head, he said he was not 
" clear " that it would be for the " best," there was not 
in all Minden an individual bold or stubborn enough to 
gainsay his decision. To impugn his motives, or to in- 
timate a question of his infallibility, would have been 
considered little short of a moral outrage. Men and 
women seldom took the liberty of smiling .in his pres- 
ence, and as for " on dits " and " bon mots," they were 
unthought of! Little boys regarded him with the 



THE EBONY IDOL. O 

same terror they did the Doctor, and little girls " bowed 
low " at his approach, resuming their sports only when 
the atmosphere was supposed to be well ventilated of 
his sanctity ! 

This description, which, in the regions of carnal 
6claircissement, may be considered almost a caricature, 
will yet be recognized by others for its truthfulness. 
Especially is it still true of the remote inland towns, 
and it is to be regretted by old and young, that this 
wholesome restraint of even excessive reverence is so 
rapidly disappearing before the so-called Light and 
Reason of the present day. 

Without the church, the community was a quiet, 
decorous people, with no pretensions to being different 
^or better than its neighbors. And yet to say, " I am 
from Minden," was a small letter of introduction in its 
way, since one felt certain that a Minden man was hon-* 
est in his dealings, — had a little ready cash wherewith 
to meet his expenditures, — that he drove good horses, 
— respected his promises, paid for his newspapers, — 
and was, in short, a paragon of that negative virtue 
that consists in the absence of smaller vices. Even the 
deacons bore unblemished reputations ; and as for 
gossip, the capital was so very limited, that the ladies 
were not unfrequently compelled to discuss new recipes 
and fashions, for lack of a sister's frailties upon which 
to descant. And thus, day after day, the natural and 
moral sun rose and set upon the pretty village ; and.ha4 



6 THE EBONY IDOL. 

a pleasure party from the city happened in upon them 
of a sunny afternoon, they would have been pardon- 
able in mistaking Minden for Rasselas's Happy 
Valley. 

Such was the church and people to whom Mr. Cary 
had been called to break the Bread of Life ; and being, 
as we have said, of unprogressive tendency, and having 
been educated in the obsolete notion that the Clergy 
were called of God expressly to preach the Gospel, it 
had never occurred to him that it was his duty to preach 
any thing else. The " one idea " spent its strength be- 
fore penetrating the density of the pine forests and 
granite palisades which encircled the rural Minden, 
and seemed always crying aloud to the enemy — 

" Procul, procul esti profani ! " 

Here, had Mr. Cary located himself in his first love 
for the ministry, and here, with the talents given him, 
he had labored patiently, if not zealously, until the 
period of his introduction to the Reader. He had been 
absent during the last few weeks, in attendance upon 
the meeting of a religious association, which had been 
invoked by the brethren for the purpose of inquiry into 
the causes of the dearth of religious interest existing 
in the churches, as well as for the spiritual welfare of 
the clergy themselves. 

From this convention Mr. Cary is just returned 
with his heart aglow ; and it is the enthusiasm of his 



THE EBONY IDOL. 



newly awakened cogitations, that has given the un- 
wonted abstraction, and fixedness of gaze, which has 
already been noticed. 

He had found the assembled clergymen absorbed 
in the great topic of Abolitionism ; eloquent in denun- 
ciation, and fervent in exhortation, toward such of the 
brethren as had " slumbered and slept " through the 
African Crusade. Individual frailties, home sins, and 
the complicated wickednesses -of New England, pre- 
sented altogether too sickly a harvest for the sickle of 
the philanthropist, and the lukewarm were warned to 
come up manfully to the greater combat !— to advance 
in solid column against the diabolical slaveholder. No 
matter what passions were excited in the human breast ! 
Let men be lashed into demons ! Let fraternal blood 
ebb and flow like the tide! Let the Union be dis- 
solved! God would smile upon the Fratricide ! Hea- 
ven would sanction the treason of the Traitor ! 
Let but the Bond go free ! 

As in morals, it is well known that persons educated 
in the comparative purity of country life, often yield 
the most readily to the seductive influences of the city— 
the very novelty of vice being its attraction ; so, intel- 
lectually, men of sterling talents are attracted from 
their even orbit by that strange fascination mind 
wields over mind ; and the staid and doubting stickler 
for fact is not unfrequently the very first to adopt the 
absurdest ism of the day. 



b THE EBONY IDOL. 

How often, when some new hobby is rendering the 
public ridiculous, and a new convert is announced, we 
hear the expression, " he is the last man I should have 
thought of ; " meaning that his former exhibitions of 
mind and morals had been antagonistic to any such 
exhibition of erratic non-reasoning ! It was precisely 
the quiet, monotonous life Mr. Gary had been enjoying 
in the township of Minden, that made the zeal of his 
brethren more attractive to him. The subject of Sla- 
very had never been very seriously considered by him. 
He knew that slavery had existed previous to, and at 
the period of our Blessed Saviour's advent, but he had 
no recollection of the Redeemer's considering that sub- 
ject paramount to the salvation of souls. Indeed, he 
had considered it one of the institutions of the Old 
Testament, which was tolerated as a necessity ; and so 
Mr. Cary had gone on thinking the Bible and " Conti- 
nental Congress " authorities to be taken for granted. 
But when he found himself a unit among a throng of 
positive clergymen, who shamed his rustic garb and 
bearing by their easy and fluent address, the battery 
of whose opposition he shrank from provoking, it is 
little wonder that, having no personal prejudices to 
overcome, he opened his heart to a comfortable convic- 
tion of the popular ism ! As he listened to the re- 
hearsal of the wonderful things these clergymen had 
accomplished, in preaching at the South, and investing 
funds in the underground railroad ; as his mental vision 



THE EBONY IDOL. 



opened upon the atrocities committed upon the misera- 
ble slaves, who were torn with red-hot pincers, hunted 
by bloodhounds, and roasted alive for the amusement 
of overseers ; it certainly can excite little surprise, 
that, being unskilled in political trickery, and accus- 
tomed to believe in the honesty of mankind, he was 
soon prepared to endorse the abolition platform with 
all its absurdities ; passing from one metamorphosis to 
another, until he shone out resplendent as a perfect 
Abolitionist, with wings proportioned to the absurdest 
flights. 

And thus Mr. Cary sits in his arm-chair, and traces 
out the similitudes of his musings in the curling flames 
before him. The whole space between Mason's and 
Dixon's Line and the Mexican Gulf, stretches out before 
his vision one immense negro mart ! each white man 
an ogre armed with fagots and cat-o'-nine tails, revel- 
ling in the tortures he inflicts ! 

As he muses, his own past inactivity looms up before 
him, lashing him for his stupidity, and culpable igno- 
rance of his duty to the shackled slave. The clarion 
note has been sounded into his deafened ear, and he re- 
solves that he will shake off this unchristian stupor, 
gird on his armor, and if needs be, die upon the field 
of battle ! David Copperfield, in his first zeal for a 
seedy wardrobe, never sighed for a shabby waistcoat 
as devoutly as Mr. Cary now aspired to tar and feath- 
ers ! " Eiding on a rail " seemed a mode of convey- 
1* 






10 THE EBONY IDOL. 

ance so desirable, and so soothing to his conscience, 
that he longed to rush into the heart of the South, and 
hurl his argumentative firebrands into the very face 
and eyes>of the slaveholders ! Oh that his sheltering 
arm could clasp every bondman in the Universe in one 
fraternal embrace ! Ah, he moaned ! had I but wealth 
to ransom them from their cruel bondage, and bear 
them back to the peaceful shores of their own Africa ! 
Alexander-like, he sighed that there were no more 
slaves to be thus conditionally ransomed ! 

As these extensive and magnanimous aspirations 
aired themselves in impossibilities, and Mr. Cary's con- 
viction of his personal inability and poverty settled 
slowly down upon his throbbing heart, he groaned aloud 
in his agony of spirit, and cast about him for some 
humbler sphere which should be operated upon by his 
modicum of influence ! 

Then uprose before him the quiet valley of Minden ! 
The little village nestling lovingly within the mountains' 
bosoms ! the modest spire of the solitary church ! 
the upturned, eager faces of those who, Sabbath after 
Sabbath, resorted there 

" Hungry for the Bread of Life." 

Here, at least, he was supreme ! Here, at least, the 
sable sons of Africa should receive justice ! He Would 
arduse his people to a true sense of their duty ! They 



THE EBONY IDOL. 



11 



should act, " act in the living present" and a war-cry 
should arise from that humble church, which all the 
world should hear, and which should cause the great 
heart of the South to quake ! 4 




CHAPTER II. 



Antony.— You grow presumptuous. 

Ventidus.—I take the privilege of plain love to speak.— Dbydbn. 



Mr. Cart was still absorbed in his African castles, 
when Mrs. Cary entered, bearing in either hand a well- 
polished candlestick, the contents of which carry us 
back, as if by magic, to days of langsyne. Not the 
degenerate dripping nuisances retailed in our shops for 
a York shilling per dozen, but the substantial candle of 
home manufacture, by the light of which every New 
England boy has read Robinson Crusoe, Sinbad the 
Sailor, and Tristram Shandy ! Ah, yes ! and is not the 
memory still fraught with oleaginous reminiscences of 
the " dipping-days." We were not simple juveniles 
then, to be. snubbed out of the kitchen by the " help ! " 
How graciously we were permitted to assist in arrang- 
ing the wicks upon the rods ! to run upon all sorts of 
errands to notable dames and spinsters, for small con- 
tributions from their hoards of beeswax! and when, 
by chance, we returned with pockets full of nuts or 



THE EBONY IDOL. 13 

apples, it is our humble opinion we were as much elated, 
and near the perfection of bliss, as mortality in small- 
clothes can well be ! 

Then came the melting, and the delicate process of 
forming the dip. How carefully, in our restless admira- 
tion, we avoided too close proximity to the arm of the 
presiding genius, for who of us but knew no mercy 
was extended to the j ostler unskilled in the art of 
dodging ! 

As* the candles grew into importance, and assumed 

" A local habitation, and a name," 

with what intense delight we prostrated ourselves in 
Oriental fashion, to take a j^rspective, Respective, and 
?^n?spective view of their increasing charms ! At rare 
intervals, when the dipper was forced to leave her treas- 
ures, and we were allowed to assume her responsibility, 
with what trembling eagerness we held the rod, and 
watched the swaying liquid, as we slowly raised the 
immersed candles and rejoiced in their growing perfec- 
tion ! It was an occasion when the moral of the " En- 
vious Frog " was to be regarded, and when we particu- 
larly felt the force of that appeal which invokes a 
humble heart in all seasons of prosperity ! 

But to return to Mrs. Cary, whom we have most 
ungallantly left standing with the candlesticks in her 
fair hands ! " • 

The smile of gratification at heir husband's return 



14 THE EBONY IDOL. 

which lights up her plain features, renders her face 
agreeable, and we feel attracted toward her by 
the gentle and dignified tout-ensemble of her person 
and bearing ; but Mr Cary, still insensible to the 
love-light of those dark hazel eyes, only arouses from 
his reverie when she addresses him. 

" Have you nothing to tell me of my old home 
friends, Mr. Cary ? Did they send me no greetings ? 
Neither have you told me of the meetings. I trust 
they proved precious seasons to the souls *of all 
present." 

Mr. Cary groaned. 

" I hope no one is dead ? " cried the lady, paling. 

" Dead ? " he reiterated, abstractedly, " no one is 
dead — so far as 1 am informed, your -friends are in 
i health ; " and instinctively his fingers wove themselves 
into Indian wigwams, and his eyes returned to their 
peering into the flickering flames. A second low groan 
escaped him. 

Mrs. Oary regarded him nervously. " Are you ill, 
Mr. Cary ? " she asked, with a shade of anxiety in her 
voice ; " pray, what do you groan so for ? " 

" Groan ! " ejaculated the minister, now fully arous- 
ed ; " why shouldn't I groan ! Why should I forget 
in my own personal comforts, the miseries of millions 
who are thig moment held in cruel bondage, with no 
eye to pity, and no human arm to save ! Who has 
made us to differ ? Why am not I, and you, and Mary 



THE EBONY IDOL. 15 

here, writhing beneath the lashes of a fiendish task- 
master ! " 

" Mr. Cary," asked his wife, gravely, placing her 
hand upon his shoulder, " are your crazed ? " 

" Crazed ! " echoed our friend, springing up and 
pacing the little room with monster strides ; " Mrs. 
Cary, you are very obtuse ! But it is the fate of man, 
perhaps his cross, that in his loftiest ambitions he stands 
isolated from companionship where he ought soonest 
to find it ! In the great work before me I had hoped 
to be encouraged by your sympathy, and strengthened 
by your prayers ! " 

We will not jot down (for our readers to skip) the 
long and not very interesting harangue in which Mr. 
Cary indulged himself. The amiable Mrs. Cary, en- 
tirely unaccustomed to enthusiastic scenes, and never 
during her life before, having heard her husband mani- 
fest the least zeal for martyrdom, listened in amazement 
to his violent expressions, and when they softened, 
drawing her knitting from her pocket, very quietly de- 
voted herself to counting off the stitches for the heel of 
her worsted hose. But did this placidity upon the part 
of his better-half gratify the gentleman? Indeed it 
did not ! "What man in excitement is ever satisfied 
with composure ? Cutting a long stride short, our rev- 
erend gentleman wheeled right-about-face, and assuming 
the stately attitude of arms in the rear, blurted out : 
"Madam, why do you knit? Is it wise, do you 



16 THE EBONY IDOL. 

think, when the world is groaning with oppression, and 
your own sex are torn from country, and friends, and 
their own offspring, to pander to the power and lust of 
their self-appointed masters, for you to sit there in that 
easy chair, before this cheerful fire, and knit ! " 

" Well," said Mrs. Cary, who had now, as we might 
say, ' scented the game,' " perhaps it is not ! " And 
settling the stitches carefully in the middle of the 
needle, and winding the worsted systematically around 
the tips, she returned the same to her capacious pocket. 

"My dear," she asked, returning his impatient 
gaze, " what do you think I had better do ? " 

"Fight and pray," cried thp excited gentleman. 
" Be up and doing ! labor ! we can all do something ! 
You remember the widow's mite, Mrs. Cary ? " 

" Yes," rejoined the lady, sadly, " we <?<mpray, and 
we always have prayed ; but as for fighting, it seems to 
me to be a good deal like Don Quixote and his windmill. 
"We can make ourselves generally uncomfortable, I sup- 
pose — can neglect our proper vocations for such as will 
be serviceable to no one ; but how, I should like to be 
informed, can that help the condition of the slave? 
There never was a colored person, so far as I know, any- 
where in this vicinity, and there is not certainly surplus 
wealth enough in our little village, to purchase one 
first-class slave, even if it could be brought into the 
treasury." 

" What of that ! " broke in Mr. Cary, increasing his 



THE EBONY IDOL. 17 

violence. " There is the influence ! the influence, Mrs. 
Cary ! Women," he muttered contemptuously, " never 
should try to argue ; however good you may be at heart, 
you are terribly deficient in logic. Knit, Madam, but 
don't argue ! You remember the advice of St. Paul in 
regard to your own sex ? " 

"St. Paul was a bachelor, and possibly had been 
disappointed, as most bachelors have," cried the lady, 
with a malicious fling at Mr. Cary's own heart experi- 
ence. " It has occurred to* me more than once, that if 
women made themselves as superbly ridiculous with 
their isms and jack-o'-lanterns, as you men do, we should 
at least deserve to be called the 6 weaker vessel ! ' " 

Mr. Cary, fairly gasping with indignation, con- 
fronted his slightly sneering help-mate ! 

" Madam, you speak lightly of God's anointed ! 
you blaspheme ! " and, we are very sorry to say, Mr. 
Cary shook his clenched fist in such close juxtapo- 
sition with his wife's face, that she involuntarily shrank 
from it, but recovering herself, said pleasantly, " A 
man who possesses such tenderness for the slave, should 
have more regard for his wife's nerves ; if we cannot 
talk without excitement, we had better not pursue the 
subject ; " and Mrs. Cary, raising from the table one 
of the inimitable tallow candles whose praises we have 
sung, disappeared through a side door, reappearing 
presently with a dish of apples so red and tempting, 
that they naturally suggested great lenity in one's con- 



18 THE EBONY IDOL. 

demnation of our first mother's transgression. "Wheel- 
ing her husband's easy chair nearer the table, Mrs. Cary 
selected the finest of the fruit, and giving a finishing 
polish with a snowy napkin, proceeded to pare, and 
place the same in charming proximity to the gentle- 
man's seat; then was added a glass of new cider, 
the remembrance of which, even at this remote period, 
causes the historian to pause with emotion ! 

Happy the woman ivho can thus beat the domestic 
sword into a pruning-hook, *and thrice-favored the man, 
whose wife can thus "stoop to conquer ! " 

The little palatable temptation thus gracefully ex- 
tended as a peace-offering, was as frankly accepted by 
the pastor. When the " one idea," after performing an 
elliptical evolution around the conjugal dessert, resumed 
its ascendancy, what with apples and cider, fire-light, 
easy chair, and loving wife, the whole subject seemed 
so exceedingly modified, that conversation soon glided 
into a smoother channel, and the woes of white and 
black were for a brief time forgotten ! But when, at 
length, Mr. Cary wiped his lips complacently with the 
snowy linen, he took his wife's hand within his own, 
and said : 

" My dear, for many years I have labored in the 
midst of my little flock, and so far as an enlightened 
conscience can pass judgment upon one's own actions, 
I have endeavored faithfully to discharge my duties in 
the fear of my Heavenly Father. It is very strange 



THE EBONY IDOL. 19 

that during all this time I have regarded Slavery with 
indifference. Indeed, the question of its divine sanction 
had never occurred to me. But this sinful lethargy- 
has been fully broken, and I must now atone for the 
past, and labor while the day lasts." 

Mrs. Cary pressed his rough hand caressingly be- 
tween both of hers. She respected his sincerity, and 
had always relied implicitly upon his judgment. 

" You know," she said, thoughtfully, " that a year 
last summer, I spent four weeks in the very place where 
this convention was held. From my earliest remem- 
brance they have had three good churches there, all of 
them occupied upon the Sabbath by large congrega- 
tions. The kind feeling existing between these different 
denominations was delightful, and it was impossible to 
say which was the most zealous and exemplary. But 
you know as well as I can tell you, what this abolition 
movement has done for that unfortunate township. The 
ministers talked, prayed, and preached abolitionism, 
until politics and religion became one and inseparable. 
And what has been the result ? ' By their fruits ye 
shall know them ! ' Zsaw what were the fruits, and so 
did the people, — and the ministers who called this asso- 
ciation together to pray over the low state of Zion, and 
devise ways and means for the re-establishment of their 
churches ! The people who preferred Scripture to poli- 
tics on Sundays, refused to attend church. Even Dea- 
con Gleason, who was in truth an abolitionist in the 



20 THE EBONY IDOL. 

fullest sense, deserted Mr. Slade's church. < Why, dea- 
con,' I said, ' I hear you are stopping at home Sabbath 
days, because your minister prays for the slave ! ' 

" ' Humph ! ' said he, ' I don't mind his praying for 
the slave — I do that myself, and so does every Christian, 
I hope, but I do mind his overlooking the interests and 
souls of his own flock, for the bodies of negroes ! ' 

" 'Not bodies, deacon — you are too severe,' I said. 

" ' I say bodies, and I mean bodies ! ' returned the 
deacon. ' Do you suppose,' he continued, 6 that a cler- 
gyman expects to convert negroes by abusing their 
masters, and exciting the North to unkindness and out- 
rage? I find no such precedent in my Bible, Mrs. 
Cary . Mr. Slade availed himself of the privileges of 
his desk, not only to preach abolition doctrines, but 
even attacked the motives of public men, whose char- 
acters are as unsullied as his own, declaring them to be 
unfit for office and confidence. Even his pastoral visits 
were converted into political wrangles, and instead of 
canvassing the town for souls, he exerted his influence 
for the polls. Finally, on the eve of election, he 
preached a very bitter political sermon, when half the 
congregation left in the midst of the discourse. Some 
few returned when the excitement had abated — more 
went to worship at the other churches, and others, who 
were too strongly orthodox to secede, preferred to re- 
main at home. This state of things extended gradually 
to the remaining churches, until, as you know, for the 



THE EBONY IDOL. 21 

last year not a church door has been opened upon the Sab- 
bath day. The charitable societies are broken up, and 
Sabbath loungers are visible everywhere ; and I am 
told, more ardent spirits have been consumed than for 
• any ten years previous. 5 Now, Mr. Cary, who is re- 
sponsible for this state of things? Who made these 
churches a nuisance ? Who withheld the Bread of Life 
from these famishing souls, and when they asked for 
bread, gave them a stone ? — and drove them out into 
the fallow ground to feed upon husks, and return to 
their wallowing in the mire ? — to desecrate the Sabbath, 
and acquire habits which are certain, ultimately, to 
plunge both themselves and their innocent families into 
disgrace ? It is easy for a clergyman, when his own 
will and passions have withheld dew and nourishment 
from his vineyard, to pronounce its barrenness accursed 
of God, and to weep over the blighted vintage as being 
the < mysterious dispensation of Providence. 5 But / 
believe, Mr. Cary, from my heart of hearts, that when 
the recording angel traces out the pious sacrilege, he 
will add, weeping tears of blood, ' Woe unto that man 
by whom the Son of Man is betrayed ! it had been 
better for that man if he had not been born 1 5 " 

" Mrs. Cary, 55 said her husband, with the longest and 
deepest of groans, " < Judge not, that ye be not judged, 5 
and remember, ' with what measure ye mete, it shall be 
measured to you again. 5 We have each of us an inward 
monitor, designed for our individual guidance, and what 



22 THE EBONY IDOL. 

may seem duty to one, may be cavilled at by another. 
Would it not be wise first, ' to cast out the beam out 
of thine own eye : and then shalt thou see clearly to 
cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye ? ' " 

" Kemember, my dear," said the wife, warmly, " it 
is Christ, himself, who says, ' Ye shall know them by 
their fruits.' 'Every good tree bringeth forth good 
fruit ; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 5 Now 
tell me honestly, Mr. Cary, as a Christian who dares to 
speak his conviction, even when truth clashes with 
prejudice — has the fruit of these clerical efforts been 
good or evil ? " 

" My dear," said Mr. Cary, laying his hand upon 
the family Bible, " it is the hour for our devotions ! " 



CHAPTER III. 



" Tho ruling passion — be it what it will — 
The ruling passion conquers reason still."— Pope. 




All over hill and dale 
lay the spotless robe winter 
so lovingly throws over the 
landscape dismantled by his 
blasts. Cosily nestled the 
little clumps of evergreens 
down into its soft folds, 
while the naked branches 
of the elms and maples, and 
the straight, lithe birch, were bending beneath the snow 
wreaths fallen during the night. Above the aristocratic 
dwelling and low thatched cottage, the light flakes had 
alike piled themselves, lodging in every nook and cran- 
ny, sifting down into the sooty chimney, creeping in at 
the window sills, and cuddling in huge heaps at the very 
door and gateways of cot and church. 

Look yonder at the mountains — those " Battlements 



24 TUE EBONY IDOL. 

of God ! " — not stern and frowning and awful in the 
density of their impenetrable forests as when we gaze 
upon them in summer ; but smooth, and soft, and white 
as the wool-fleece — the tops glowing and deepening into 
gorgeous hues of purple and crimson, as the Day-God 
greets them with burning kisses, and rushes onward in 
his chariot of flame! And see how the pale blue smoke 
steals up from the love-altars scattered here and there, 
just where the mountains slope down to the plains below ! . 
Man is not yet abroad to awake you from the dreamy 
delight of your ejaculatory orisons, and involuntarily 
you shout out joyously, and send your voices ringing 
through the keen, metallic atmosphere, in some simple 
paean of adoration, learned far back in childhood, per- 
chance in the Sabbath school of just such a church as 
that whose quaint spire glitters on the plain below. 

" God made the country, but man made the town ! " 

But the inhabitants of Minden are astir. The 
snow of the previous night is tossed lightly aside ; the 
smoke curls cheerfully up from the church-roof, and 
cordially at length the sweet-toned bell peals out its 
weekly, invitation, "Do come — do come — do come" — 
and the snow-capped mountains upon all sides take up 
and prolong the echo, " come — come ! " And so the 
village church is filled. 

The evening in which we left Mr. Gary at his family 
devotions, closed without any renewal of the subject 



THE EBONY IDOL. 25 

under discussion, and for reasons which will readily 
suggest themselves, Mr. Cary chose to confine his 
cogitations to his own breast. The night was far ad- 
vanced when Mr. Cary sought his chamber, but Mrs. 
Cary, wisely pretending to have long since been sunken 
in the drowsy deep of slumber, allowed her husband's 
unwonted irregularity to pass without comment, trust- 
ing to time and common sense to set her " gude mon " 
right. Words therefore cannot portray the amazement 
of that excellent lady, when upon this identical succeed- 
ing Sabbath, Mr. Cary launched forth into a discourse 
well calculated to scatter fire-brands upon the right 
hand and upon the left ! He confessed his long and 
culpable neglect of duty, and he exhorted his little flock 
to immediate and earnest investigation of their own 
personal responsibilities. Feeling the subj ect grow upon 
him as he continued, Mr. Cary gradually enlarged upon 
his first intention, and warmed into denunciation, until 
with the blindest of infatuations he lost sight of the 
boundary line that separates mental independence from 
folly, and mingled religion with politics until he con- 
cocted a kind of moral salad, intolerable as nourish- 
ment, and unpalatable as a relish ! 

Once astride his theme became his hobby, and he 
needed neither whip nor spur to carry him beyond the 
limits of discretion. He urged his people to remember 
that the ballot-box was at their disposal — that the vote 
was the highest prerogative of free men, and he did not 
2 



26 THE EBONY IDOL. 

hesitate to declare that the man who could countenance 
slavery even by inaction, was an enemy to his God and 
country ; and that he who would, directly or indirectly, 
sustain another in the traffic of human flesh, was un- 
worthy of trust or confidence, and should therefore be 
ineligible to office. 

It was just here, when Mr. Cary, with both arms 
extended, was raising himself upon tiptoe, preparatory 
to rendering his sentence emphatic by making an &c. 
of his person, that a heavy step upon the floor, accom- 
panied by the clump of a wooden crutch, announced to 
the excited audience that Squire Bryan, the rich, and, 
of course, influential great man of Minden, was leaving 
the church. 

It must be remembered that in our country villages 
freshly-barbered young men do not promenade the 
aisles that pretty girls may be induced to look at them ; 
neither do young misses go out "because they are 
tired ; " — fainting is not fashionable ; and the phy- 
sicians, for some sharp reason of their own, do not re- 
sort to the stratagem of being called out ; so that when 
church*going is attempted, good order and pious de- 
meanor prevail, and whether the people hear or sleep, 
they hear or sleep to the end. Consequently, Squire 
Bryan's withdrawal excited immediate attention. From 
looking at the minister, the people commenced looking 
at each other ; and several gentlemen, who were accus- 
tomed to consider the Squire as a " burning and shining 



THE EBONY IDOL. . 27 

light to all that place," sat unusually erect, assuming a 
very dignified and injured appearance. Even Mr. Cary 
flagged for a sentence or two, and with an " ahem " 
of embarrassment, descended from his ' rhetorical 
flight with ungraceful precipitancy. When at last the 
benediction was announced, and the male portion of 
the congregation waited in the vestibule for their better- 
halves, the whisperings and impressive nods and shakes 
of the head exchanged between them, did not escape 
the jealous eye of Mrs. Cary, as she pressed her way 
out. 

Mr. Cary, himself, who always paused in passing to 
speak with such of his parishioners as he seldom .saw 
during the week-days, could not be insensible to a kind 
of restraint in these greetings, entirely foreign to their 
former unaffected cordiality. 

' There is, perhaps, no medium which conveys so 
readily the good will of a man's heart, as his mode of 
shaking hands. To a person whose sensitive nature is 
affected by such trifles, no courtesy of expression or 
demeanor can atone for the cold, stony hand grasp. 
The warm heart sends its magnetism to the palm, and 
strangers who have once shaken hands in the most pro- 
found silence and darkness, possess each a key to the 
other's inner nature, often disregarded, but rarely lead- 
ing them astray. Fearfully does this theory manifest 
itself in declining friendships ! How often in sorrow, 
and incipient disgrace, has the breaking heart been yet 



28 • THE EBONY IDOL. * 

more keenly hurt, not by tlic averted eye or curling 
lip, half so readily as by the faint pressure and unprof- 
fered embrace of those whom it had loved. 

For the first time during the long period of his min- 
istry, Mr. Cary passed out of the church with a chill in 
his being. Mrs. Cary, whose frank, impulsive nature 
knew no hypocrisy, presided over the family lunch with 
a " don't-do-that-again " air ; and little Mary, gazing 
from one to the other of her parents, secretly wondered 
at the unusual taciturnity of the Sunday dinner. ISTo 
allusion was made to the morning's discourse ; and Mr. 
Cary. retiring to his study, remained invisible until the 
bell again summoned him to his labors. 

It would be inferred that our indignant friend Bryan 
was missing from the afternoon service. Not so ; being 
a man of decided and independent action himself, he 
believed every other man should be judged with lenity. 
If Mr. Cary might suppose he had a right to tamper 
with the ballot box, and make stump speeches in the 
desk, so had he, Horace Bryan, an equal right to vacate 
the premises, and leave the reverend gentleman to say 
his say. 

But the Squire is not a man to " nurse his wrath ; " 
so there he sits with his keen, bright eyes, which you 
feel to be scales of justice, fixed upon the desk, saying 
as expressively as eyes could say, " Now, Mr. Cary, if 
you have any Gospel on hand, I am at your disposal." 
But when, after the introductory exercises, Mr. Cary 



THE EBONY IDOL. 29 

arose, reannounced Lis morning's text, and with a kind 
of dogged demeanor, announced his intention of 
" pursuing the subject of his morning's reflections," 
Squire Bryan, taking his hat, adjusted his crutches, and 
clumped slowly down the aisle, slamming the door very 
emphatically after his retreating person. 

Neither did matters rest here. Mr. McLean, upon 
whose farm the Squire held a mortgage, and Mr. 
Smith, the Postmaster, who had been indebted to Squire 
Bryan for his appointment, both felt called upon to 
follow his example. A small stampede was the result ; 
each succeeding slam not a whit inferior to the first, 
each destructive in its effect upon the speaker's intro- 
duction. 

Quiet being restored, Mr. Caiy proceeded to preach, 
not " Christ and him crucified," but himself ; spreading 
before his audience his reasons for the positions he had 
assumed, regretting that offence should be given, but 
declaring it to be his conviction of duty to preach what 
he understood to be the requirements of the Gospel, as- 
serting the liberty of speech, and protesting himself 
willing to fight to the death for freedom and truth. Al- 
together, he complimented himself a good deal, and 
rounded his periods with a proper regard to humility 
and self-distrust. The sermon ended, Mr. Cary read 
the closing hymn, but the choir remaining silent, it was 
discovered that the leader had withdrawn. 

Now, as evils seldom come alone, it so happened 



30 THE EBONY IDOL. 

there was a poor widow, whose only child, a son, upon 
whom she had leaned as her staff through this earthly 
pilgrimage, had been smitten with paralysis, and lin- 
gered upon the verge of the grave. This widow and 
this son, turning with natural confidence and affection 
to the bosom of the church for comfort in their great 
calamity, had this day presented an humble petition 
that the pastor and church would pray God, if so be 
the cup of suffering might pass from them ; feeling as- 
sured, as the petition touchingly added, "that when 
two or three should agree together as touching one thing 
in Christ's name, it should be granted unto them." 

Strange as it may seem, Mr. Cary, in his closing 
prayer, had well-nigh forgotten the poor widow and her 
son ! He had prayed for the President of the United 
States, for the Senate, and " all men in high places ; " 
he had prayed for sunshine and rain, for seedtime and 
harvest, for the slave and his master, and all that " were 
in bonds everywhere." Indeed, he had prayed for every- 
body and every thing, excepting the two sufferers who 
had so meekly requested his remembrance ! A low sob 
stole out from a remote corner, smiting upon his ear, 
and recalling him to duty. But the words were briefly 
and almost coldly spoken, as such words are only too apt 
to be, and there was no listener present but felt that in 
Mr. Gary's estimation, the widow and son were of small 
moment, compared with his sable brethren ! 

And so the people said, as they slowly walked home 



THE EBONY IDOL. 



31 



together, and they did not forget it when they got home, 
either. One old lady, who had more than once been 
grieved by these omissions, even said to a visitor on 
the following Thursday morning, " that for her part she 
could always tell when ministers had parishioners in 
trouble ; for they began either at the Creation or Deluge, 
and prayed down to that afternoon, when, as if it had 
just occurred to them, they threw in (in a kind of pa- 
renthesis) their petition for some poor dying creeter,for 
whom they ought to wrestle day and night, and let the 
President and Senate take keer of themselves a little." 




Portrait of that Old Lady. 



CHAPTER IY. 

And thus it was the multitude received it— A Nice Distinction. 

Eaelt in the week, as Mr. Cary was going to the 
post office, he met Mr. Hobbs. 

Let it not be supposed that the pastor had suddenly 
fallen from grace in the mind of all Minden. He had 
his friends, and among them, but by no means the best 
example, was Mr. Hobbs, the husband of a distin- 
guished member of Minden tea-partydom, whom he 
commonly alluded to by a grammatical lapsus that vir- 
tually implied his own non-entity as " Miss Hobbs." 

Hobbs was a man of ordinary standing in the vil- 
lage community. Though a person of coarser nature 
than most men about him, and utterly uncultivated, he 
yet " held his own," whatever that was, by virtue of 
certain qualities mostly appreciated among simple- 
minded prosperous people ; he was sober, industrious, 
and unflinchingly practical in all things. It was his 
pride not to be " notional," and " to live up to what he 
thought," in extenuation of which it must be said that 



THE EBONY IDOL. 83 

his thoughts were never exacting nor of particularly- 
high flight. It was also a point of pride with him to 
attend " meeting " with a precise punctuality that gave 
it the appearance of a business engagement, and to fol- 
low in the moral footsteps of his beloved pastor. 

Shaking Mr. Cary very cordially by the hand, his 
admirer congratulated him upon his sermons the Sab- 
bath previous. 

" Them is my opinions exactly," he said, " Niggers 
is our brethren ! We have all one Father, and if He 
does not make any distinction, it is a pretty time of 
day, says I to Miss Hobbs, for us white folks to set 
ourselves up, jest because we ain't black ! I and, Miss 
Hobbs thinks with you, that all men is created free and 
equal ! " 

" Thank you, Mr. Hobbs, I am g^ad to hear you say 
that ! it is pleasant to hear an encouraging word, after 
the averted faces I have seen of late. I fear I have 
given great offence, and I hear that Squire Bryan is 
very indignant, and was so unjust as to suppose I re- 
ferred to certain individuals in the house." 

Mr. Hobbs hesitated. There sprang a new scruple 
in his head, 

" Which first he scratched, and then he said—" 

" "Well, I must say, that was exactly what I and 
Miss Hobbs thought ! Says I to Miss Hobbs, says I, 
if Mr. Cary didn't speak right out in meeting and fit a 
2* 



34 THE EBONY IDOL. 

tight jacket on to Squire Bryan, I am no judge of 
what's what ! And Miss Hobbs, says she to me, says 
she, them's my opinion ! " 

Owing to some reason that has been mysteriously 
kept secret, Mr. Cary did not pause to correct the im- 
pression that Hobbs had received ; but each, after some 
further trivialities, went upon his way. 

This was but one of many greetings that the worthy 
pastor received upon that morning, and this owes the 
distinction of being recorded here solely to the fact 
that it is fairly representative of all the others. 

Contrary to the anticipations of many men in Minden 
the world continued to go on pretty much as usual, and 
the next Sunday was eagerly expected. It brought a 
lengthy and excellent discourse upon charity. 

As Squire Bryan, on that day, hopped along home- 
ward with his crutch under one arm, and his little wife 
Nannie upon the other, he was overtaken by the clergy- 
man. 

" It was a charming sermon you gave us this morn- 
ing, sir," he said at once, " and I am fearful it was 
needed by us all. For my part I am a stupid alms- 
giver. Nannie, here, does a thousand little charities 
every day so gracefully that I wonder everybody else 
has not thought of them before — it is one of her graces. 
Now this sermon of yours has actually made me 
charitably inclined, the sensation penetrates my wallet 
even, and I am quite in a furor to do something ; " and 



THE EBONY IDOL. 35 

the Squire stopping and extracting a bill from a well- 
worn pocket book, extended it toward his pastor. 
" There, sir, if you could manage to slip that into the 
hands of that poor widow who was up for prayers last 
Sabbath, it would really be doing me a favor ; I am 
told, by the way, that the town will be obliged to 
assist her .soon, unless individuals come to her relief. 
For one, Mr. Cary, I would be willing to do any thing 
reasonable, and beg you will make use of my purse in 
whatever manner suggests itself as desirable. We 
ought not to see one of our neighbors, and especially 
a Christian woman like Mrs. "Wellman, resorting to 
public charity." 

" I thought," said Mr. Cary, a you left church before 
her petition was read." 

" So I did, sir, but I was told (a pinch from Madam) 
that her petition was very indifferently noticed. It 
has always surprised me, sinner as I am, that people 
should still keep up that old custom. It is very beauti- 
ful in sentiment, I grant you, but like many .other 
things, worldly and sacred, the spirit is dead. Clergy- 
men mention these requests in their devotions with 
such indifference in tone and manner, that I must say, 
Mr. Cary, I long to warm up their blood with the 
application of a raw hide. I remember one clergy- 
man, who prayed for those in affliction to my liking. 
He did not pray for every thing else first, as if they 
were all of more importance than the poor stricken 



36 THE EBONY IDOL. 

heart that had east itself, bleeding, before the altar, 
but he began, and ended, and filled up his petition with 
that individual supplication ; his prayer was brief, per- 
haps, but it was entire and earnest, and you felt that 
if supplication could bring down a blessing, the mourner 
would be comforted ! " 

" Whatever foibles you may possess, Mr. Bryan, 
the want of frankness is not among them," said Mr. 
Cary dryly. " You must remember, Squire, it is easier 
to criticize the errors of other people, than to do the 
same thing well ourselves." 

" Yery true, Mr. Cary. Yery true indeed, sir. I 
am a frank spoken man, and express myself warmly. 
I do not wish to be rude, sir, but I must say, I cannot 
conceive how a clergyman can stand in the presence of 
his God, cold, impassive, without even a tear in his voice, 
much less in his eye, bearing in his extended palm the 
burden of some broken heart, that has suffered and 
struggled, and concealed until even silence becomes 
insufferable, and it seeks relief upon the common bosom 
of humanity ; crying aloud to the good and merciful 
to wrestle with God in their behalf! " 

" You possess a very warm imagination," said Mr. 
Cary, regarding the Squire with a complaisant smile. 
Squire Bryant's crutch came to a sudden stand-still, and 
he confronted the clergyman with a look of mingled 
astonishment and contempt. 

" A warm imagination I he repeated. " Thank 



THE EBONY IDOL. 37 

God, I have at least that redeeming virtue to be 
sneered at ! and that in these days of cant and hypo- 
crisy I have a heart to be aroused by something. Dur- 
ing the long years of your ministry in Minden, Mr. 
Cary, this poor widow has been familiar to you, and I, 
sir, have known her from infancy ; and a brighter eye, 
a ruddier cheek, or more blithesome spirit never graced 
childhood than she possessed when she sat in the old 
school-house under the hill! Never shone warmer 
home light or home love upon locks so sunny then, but 
now so whitened by the frosts of her heart ! She was 
the pet and darling of all ; the first love even of many ; 
the queen of little revelries ; and when, a beautiful bride, 
she came forth from our rustic church, the blessings of 
old and young, the rich and the poor, followed the foot- 
steps of Susie Wellman. But God has pressed to her 
innocent lips the bitterest of life's cups, and she has 
drank it to its dregs. Never has she swerved from the 
path of duty or rectitude, though often and again her 
weary feet have been pierced by the thorns. Her rela- 
tives, all of them, lie there, in our church-yard. It was 
your own lips that spoke solace to her heart the day 
she became a widow, anfl it was your hand, sir, that 
sprinkled the baptismal water upon the brow of her 
dying child, and pointed her to the < Lamb of God, 
who taketh away the sins of the world.' From afflu- 
ence and ease, from the blessed surroundings of love 
and plenty, she has borne her cross of heart crucifixion 



38 THE EBONY IDOL. 

down the stairway of adversity, like our Saviour, cheer- 
fully when she could, unmurmuringly when she must. 
Who of us ever listened to her repinings ? And who 
of us have not seen her, in our own hours of sorrow, 
hovering like an angel of mercy around our homes, 
forgetting her own afflictions in those of her fellow 
creatures ? " 

A faint sob fell upon the minister's ears. " Nannie 
is thinking of our own little lambs,, who fell asleep 
upon the widow's breast," said the Squire with a husky 
voice, while his hand closed sympathetically upon the 
fingers of his weeping wife. " If I mistake not, Mr. 
Cary, you have similar reminiscences to recall in your 
own sad experience ! Oh, how like mockery were words 
of consolation then ! And yet, think of it, what were 
their sufferings, compared with those of that poor 
paralyzed boy, blasted at noon-day, or ours to those 
of that broken-hearted mother, watching, in helpless 
despair, the gradual decay of her idol ! Think of the 
sweet time when she held him to breast, a laughing 
boy, dreaming such blissful dreams as only mothers 
can dream, when she should rejoice in his usefulness 
and exult in his manliness. "When death and adversity 
overwhelmed her, and she seemed abandoned by God 
and man, you cannot have forgotten, Mr. Cary, how 
she clung to this one frail boy, laboring day and night 
for his comfort, respectability, and education! And 
now, after all her hopes, all her heart struggles, there 



THE EBONY IDOL. 39 

he lies, the last flower in her life's waste, blasted ! the 
last drop of water her parched lips sighed for, dashed 
to the ground ! The long night of poverty and age 
settling down upon her, moonless, starless ! While 
memory, wreathed with roses and cypress, sitting side 
by side with the gaunt figure of want, tells over and 
over the luxuries of her youth, never so coveted as 
now, when her dying boy moans for them in his restless 
anguish ! 

« "Why, sir, she told my wife, that night after night, 
ere her want was so known, she had watched by his 
bedside, without even the light from a penny candle, 
because she was afraid she should tax the kindness of. 
her friends ! Talk of imagination ! Is it possible for 
one heart to compass the world of suffering this weak 
woman has borne silently, and alone ! A warm imagi- 
nation ! Mine, Mr. Cary, shrinks back fearfully from 
attempting to penetrate the holiest of holies of such a 
temple ! and may God have mercy upon those who can 
rend the veil only to sneer at the burning records, 
written all over the charred altar of the human heart ! " 

The Squire was silent, and the three walked on, the 
crisped snow crackling beneath their feet, " but not so 
cold," mused he, " as the sympathy of the selfish world, 
not so difficult to melt as the human ice in the bosom 
of our brother man ! " 



CHAPTEE V. 



" The primal duties shine aloft, like stars ; 
The charities that soothe and heal and bless, 
Are scattered at the feet of man like flowers." 

The Exclusion. 

" I give thee sixpence t I -will see thee damned first." 

The Needy Knife-G-rinder. 



Shortly after the scene of last chapter occurred, 
Squire Bryan's gentle little lady went upon an excur- 
sion through a number of the village homes, upon 
which it may be profitable for us to go with her, as it 
will at least introduce us to some families in which we 
are not yet acquainted. 

u Mrs. Hobbs," said Nannie, as she sat in the sitting 
room of Hobbs' house, " I am going around with a sub- 
scription for "Widow Wellman, who you know is in 
great affliction, and I thought you would be glad to 
give something, so I called here the first after Mrs. Cary's. 
You know a paper circulates more successfully with the 
influential names first ! " 

It will be inferred that Nannie was a little diplo- 
matist in her way ! 



THE EBONY IDOL. 41 

Mrs. Hobbs made no reply ; she looked straight at 
her husband, and upon that hint, Nannie looked in the 
same direction. Mr. Hobbs, conscious of the " posi- 
tion," hemmed — put in a fresh quid of tobacco — crossed 
his legs — uncrossed them — tipped his chair back against 
the wall, and himself in it, crossed his limbs again, 
bringing his cow-skin boot exactly in a line with Nan- 
nie's face ; and after all of this manual labor, what do 
you guess he did ? 

" Took out his wallet ? " you smilingly suggest. 

Wrong, though. Mr. Hobbs, after settling himself, 
did nothing more or less than look at Nannie ! and Mrs. 
Bryan looked at Mr. Hobbs. Mr. Hobbs continued to 
ruminate and shift his pedal extremities for several min- 
utes. Finally, depositing his quid iii his left cheek, he 
inquired, 

" Why can't Mrs. Wellman work, as my wife 
does ? " and he glanced admiringly toward the " bone 
of his bone." 

" Them's my opinions ! " ejaculated Mrs. Hobbs ! 

" That's what I and Miss Hobbs thinks," said, the 
gentleman, removing his tobacco to the other side of his 
cheek, and evidently preparing for a set speech, which 
Nannie cut short by rising. 

" Very well," said that small lady, " I did not call 
to argue you into giving. I supposed you would con- 
sider it a privilege to give in this case. The question 
of expecting a feeble woman like Mrs. Wellman to earn 



4:2 THE EBONY IDOL. 

money, fettered, as everybody knows her to be, day 
and night, to the bedside of her paralyzed son, is too 
absurd for discussion. I only hope, Mr. Hobbs, if you 
are ever destined to leave your wife a penniless widow, 
she will never have that question asked in regard to 
her ! You know Mrs. "Wellman as well as I do, and 
her deserts and needs. If your heart does not plead for 
her, no words of mine could prevail." 

" I suppose folks will talk, if Miss Hobbs don't give 
sunthin'," said Mr. Hobbs, fidgeting in his chair ; and 
with reluctance but too apparent, he handed Nannie 
what she supposed to be a quarter, but what proved to 
be a pistareen. 

There was one other member of the Hobbs family 
— one known through Minden only as " little Mary " — 
a girl so fragile, so pure-hearted, so ethereal in person 
and spirit, that she might have sprung from the bosom 
of sleeping flowers, wooed by the passionate starlight. 
A sweet, pale face she had, so delicate and lovely, that 
the gazer looked again and again with tenderness and 
Sorrow upon those deep introspective eyeS, that seemed 
to be forever pleading. 

" Little Mary " accompanied Mrs. Bryan to the 
door, and when in the passage-way, she slipped four 
three-cent pieces into the lady's hand. 

" Mrs. Bryan," she said, " it is such a trifle I am 
ashamed to give it, but it is all I have in the world. Do 
not put it upon the paper, nor say a word about it to 



TIIE EBONY IDOL. 43 

anybody. It will be a ninepence more to the poor 
widow, and for that reason I have courage to give it." 

" The little dear ! " cried Mrs. Bryan enthusias- 
tically, as she referred to the subject on a future occa- 
sion ; " she is an angel ! I cannot conceive how such a 
pearl came to be cast before such swine ! It was all 
she had ! but was that any reason why I should deprive 
her of the satisfaction of feeling that she had done 
something — all she could — for the widow ? will not her 
young heart grow warmer, and her dreams be sweeter 
every night, for thinking of the little treasure she has 
laid up for herself in Heaven ? and I could not grieve 
her by refusing it ; but I resolved upon the instant, to 
give her a dozen times that amount before many days." 

Nannie shook the dust of that house from her feet, 
and called upon Mrs. Kimball, a frank, energetic, prac- 
tical woman. 

" I am glad to see you going round," she said im- 
mediately ; " I was tempted to start out myself, but 
Sara was seized with croup last week, and has been ail 
ing ever since. "What missionary wives manage to do 
in their fields of labor, is more than I can divine. You 
know I have six boys, noisy enough to have been dug 
out of the Franconia iron works, and what with mumps, 
and measles, and whooping cough, and scarlet fever, 
and chicken pox, the variety of aches, and that very 
extensive, intermittent, and always available resource, 
worms, I manage to labor in the medicinal treadmill 



4A THE EBONY IDOL. 

pretty effectually. Sara's forte is the croup, which in- 
variably attacks her when I am particularly sick or 
tired. My husband is gone for a couple of weeks, but 
he got a barrel of excellent flour the day he went away, 
and I will send in a bag of that ; " and Mrs. Kimball 
called in the hired man, and despatched the donation 
while Nannie was there. 

The house of the village doctor was the next scene 
of action. Dr. Baker was just home from visiting the 
widow's son, and was drawing off her account — Mrs. 
Wellman had asked for her bill. Nannie thought that 
" seemed very foolish in her." 

" I don't think so," said Dr. Baker ; " I told her 
months ago I could do nothing more for her son than 
to render him more comfortable. If it was my own 
son, I shcnild certainly consult the best medical advice 
in my power. It will give her satisfaction even if the 
effort is a failure, as I fear it must be." 

"When the object of the visit w^as announced, he re- 
ceipted his bill, and passed it over. 

" There," said he, " give her that for me, and the 
Lord do even so to her, in her hour of need," laying his 
hand lovingly upon his wife's head. 

Mrs. Baker turned toward her husband a tearful, 
grateful look ; it really savored of the honeymoon ! 
Nannie thanked him very cordially in Mrs. Wellman's 
behalf. 

" I have rather to thank you," he said, " for I was 



THE EBONY IDOL. 45 

designing to give it to her myself, and have avoided a 
scene which I always dread." 

So the little lady arose to go y when the doctor said 
to his wife, 

" Are you not designing to give something too, Mrs. 
Baker ? " 

" I thought you had been generous enough for us 
both," she said, smiling. 

" But I do not," said the doctor-; " it is as much of 
a satisfaction to you to give, as it is to me. I prefer 
that my wife should indulge in the luxury of charity 
for herself, for it is a luxury," he added, with unction ! 

Mrs. Baker took out her purse, and handed Nannie 
five dollars, saying proudly, as she did so, with perhaps 
the weakness of a wife, "Mr. Baker isn't like most 
men, Mrs. Bryan," — Mrs. Bryan silently assented — 
" who insist upon doing all the alms-giving because it 
looks well. If there is but ten cents to go into the con- 
tribution box, he insists upon my putting in five, be- 
cause, as he says, although he can give for me, he cannot 
feel the blessing of giving for me ! And that is the 
truth, Mrs. Bryan, and I wish all men thought of it." 

The postmaster came next. He gave five dollars 
for his wife, and the young clerk, Stebbins, gave two 
dollars for his wife. 

" Why," said Nannie, " you are not married ? " 

" Not exactly," he said, laughing and coloring, " but 
I have read that all little boys have little wives some- 



46 THE EBONY IDOL. 

where in the world, that they ought to think politely of; 
— and though not so little, I think the idea is a good 
one. I insist upon subscribing for Mrs. Stebbins." 

" A nice young man, that Stebbins," thought Nan- 
nie, as she turned her steps toward Mr. Smith's ; " his 
little ideal, wherever she may be, has a noble heart in 
store for her ! " 

Then she went to Mr. Smith's ! " Mercy ! " said 
Nannie, as she entered, seeing in Smith's hands Holmes' 
Poems — " haven't you finished that book yet ? You have 
been reading it these five years to my remembrance ! " 

" I am only reviewing the Oysterman," said Smith ; 
" I always had a particular affection for that chap, who 
was taken with the cramp and drowned. Now, you 
see, if he had been as light-headed and hearted as I am, 
he would have floated high and dry, cramp or no 
cramp !* " 

"When Smith became quiet, Nannie told him her er- 
rand, and that set him off again ; and he enlarged 
somewhat censoriously, perhaps, upon Mr. Cary's and 
other clergymen's manner of praying for the poor. 
Nannie, however, finally fastened him. 

"Well," he said, "I have no objection to Mrs. 
Smitn's giving, but she is a little green-eyed — though 
not %> monster — and especially j ealous of widows. Now, 
you see, I am a little skew-eyed, and as both eyes look 
different ways, my wife always thinks I am looking 
after dimity, look which way I will ; so to ease the dear 



THE EBONY IDOL. 47 

creature's mind, I have adopted this way of looking 
and walking — how do you like it, Mrs. Bryan ? " and 
plunging both hands into his pockets, and pointing that 
little snub nose of his to the zenith, as straight- as such a 
crooked little thing could be pointed at any thing, he 
marched off whistling, and was out of sight before 
Nannie discovered that his simulation of himself was 
only a ruse to get away. Mrs. Smith looked after him 
laughingly. 

" Do you think Mr. Smith ugly looking ? " she asked 
naively, turning to Nannie. 

"I humbly beg your pardon, Mrs. Smith," said 
Nannie, " but I certainly must plead guilty." 

" Well," said Mrs. Smith, looking at Nannie pleas- 
antly, " some folks do, but he always looked handsome 
to me ; " and Mrs. Smith gave five dollars for the sub- 
scription. 

Mr. Johnson came next. Mr. Johnson was at home, 
of course — he always is ! He was gorgeous in a royal 
purple dressing-gown, and crimson slippers. When 
Nannie named to Mrs. Johnson the purpose with which 
she called, Mr. Johnson said : 

"Mrs. Bryan, it affords me the most unbounded 
satisfaction, to have the felicity of bestowing my mite 
upon Mistress Wellman. I have known of her for many 
years. I have always considered, Mrs. Bryan, that we, 
upon whom Providence has lavished its great bounty 
and preference, should not appropriate the glory to our- 



48 



THE EBONY IDOL. 



selves, but should continually ask ourselves who it is 
that has made us to differ ! We of ten talents should 
not despise the humble individual who has but one ! " 

" It is not from the gentlemen," said Nannie, who 
had a horror of speeches, " that we solicit aid. The 
ladies flattered themselves they were to be alone in this 
good deed. But some of the gentlemen have insisted 
on giving, and I shall be happy in adding your name, 
if you are so disposed, Mr. Johnson." 

" It is quite the same thing," said Johnson, loftily ; 
" these contributions of the ladies are simple extractions 
from the funds of their husbands. For one, Mrs. Bryan, 
I always prefer to control my own resources, and very 
fortunately, I am blessed with an inestimable lady, who 
has no false notions in regard to woman's rights ! " 

" Not rights, colonel," said Mrs. Bryan, " but privi- 
leges. It is a very pleasant thing to be free agents in 
our charities, at least." 

The colonel gave another flourish with his hand. 
" My lady, the inestimable Mrs. Johnson, has too deli- 
cate perceptions of her own proper sphere, to wish to 
assert her independence in any way whatever ! Allow 
me, Madam, to enlarge your charitable funds with the 
enclosed donation ; " and he extended the silver he had 
been daintily wrapping up in pink tissue paper. 

Nannie took the pink tissue, and rushed for the pure 
air ! The said paper contained twenty-five cents. 

" There's nought so mean hut may do -wondrous service 1" 



THE EBONY IDOL. 49 

From Mr. Noyes was received an order on his own 
store, of ten dollars, to be taken in groceries ; and from 
Mr. Rusk a similar one for two cords of wood. 

Miss Dickey was next in course. Nannie did not 
expect much there, but she liked at least " to hear their 
excuses." 

" Now, Miss Dickey," she said, " I have the finest 
chance in the world for you to cast your bread upon 
the water, and to realize that truthful and beautiful as- 
sertion, ' it is more blessed to give than to receive.' " 

" I declare," said Miss Dickey, dropping the smile 
with which she had received our friend, and donning 
the most woe-begone expression of countenance imag- 
inable ; " objects of charity are multiplying to such an 
alarming extent, that it is quite impossible to attend to 
so many. I have given away every rag of old clothes 
on the premises, and as for cold victuals, living, as Da- 
vid and I do, alone by ourselves, it cannot be expected 
I should have much to dispose of." 

" Certainly not," said Nannie, " but fortunately I 
do not come for either ; a little money would be more 
desirable every way, and if I hear correctly, the gentle- 
men have the impression you have plenty of that." 

Miss Dickey began to smile again, and Nannie pro- 
ceeded to urge Mrs. "Wellman's claims upon her benev- 
olence. 

"Why doesn't she present herself to the Martha 
3 



50 THE EBONY IDOL. 

"Washington Society as an object ? " asked Miss Dickey. 
" They might as well take her as any other ! " 

" Very true," said Nannie, " but Mrs. Wellman 
cannot wait for shirts to be made and disposed of, or 
for socks to be knit. The truth is, she is in want now, 
and must be assisted immediately, or call upon the 
town ! " 

" Well, I do think that would be the wisest thing 
she could do," said Miss Dickey ; " every town has an 
asylum for sick, and it seems to me much more suitable 
for them to avail themselves of it, than to tax private 
charity." 

"Miss Dickey," asked the inexorable Nannie, 
"would you be willing to have Mrs. Wellman, who 
has been g, kind neighbor and friend to us, all these long 
years, beside being a member of our own church, com- 
pelled to take that poor, helpless boy to the farm house, 
where the vicious and insane are all huddled together, 
and where neither could have the repose or food so ne- 
cessary for them? Even friends would shrink from 
visiting them there ! How faithfully, only two years 
since, Mrs. Wellman nursed you through that dreadful 
fever !" 

"Certainly — but I paid her, Mrs. Bryan, all she 
asked." 

" Paid her ! As if such nursing could be paid for 
in dollars and cents ! Even the doctor allowed that 
you owed your life to her unwearied devotion ! You 



THE EBONY IDOL. 51 

thought, and said so, too, at the time ! I suppose two 
dollars a week was the full value of that debt ! n 

Nannie was becoming excited, which Miss Dickey 
saw, and left the room ; when she returned, she pre- 
sented fifty cents, with a countenance and manner so 
ungracious, that the offering was rejected. 

" No, indeed," said Nannie ; " Mrs. Wellman shall 
be insulted by no such flinty charity ! it is frhe cheerful 
giver that is beloved of God ! Live long as you may, 
Miss Dickey, you can never repay the debt you owe 
her, though I beg your pardon for reminding you of 
it." 

Miss Dickey's eyes flashed fire, and Nannie left her 
with 

" A sweet disorder in the dress. * 

A desperate kind of carelessness ; 
A winning wave deserving note 
In the tempestuous petticoat." 



CHAPTER VI. 



" In this wild world the fondest and the best 
Are the most tried, most troubled and distressed."— Ceabbe. 



Directly after tea, the indefatigable Nannie wended 
her way to the humble cottage of Mrs. "Wellman. 
Small and brown, and destitute as it was of the little 
comforts 4o which the widow had so long been accus- 
tomed, it was a roof to shelter the destitute, and when 
endowed with the blessed title of home, seemed to the 
grateful, uncomplaining hearts within, a gift from God's 
free bounty. Always tidily kept, and its rough walls 
and floors garnished by such little adornments as pov- 
erty can command, it nevertheless appeared a comfort- 
less abode to the warm-hearted wife, still mindful of the 
cozy and luxurious nest from which she had so recently 
issued. 

As Nannie hastened along the single snow track, 
(for few are the feet that enlarge the path to the abodes 
of the poor,) the widow, whose sunken eye was peering 
into the dusky twilight, as if she found in the darkness 



THE EBONY IDOL. 53 

a companionship for her own troubled soul, espied the 
uncertain outline in the distance, and opened the door 
with the eager cordiality of one wearied with her own 
solitude. 

" How is Edward ? " asked Mrs. Bryan, after the first 
greetings were over. 

" Sinking, I fear," said the widow, struggling to 
speak calmly ; " he misses his cordials — his wine is all 
gone," she said, sighing. 

" Dr. Baker tells me you have decided to change 
your physician ? " 

" Yes ; not with much hope of success, but from 
that restless desire we all have* to keep doing. - My 
poor, poor boy ! " and the widow buried her face in her 
hands, and sobbed as if her heart would break. 

The sufferer, aroused from his partial slumber by 
the sobs of his mother, extended his hand feebly toward 
her. " It is all right, mother — it is all right ! " he mur- 
mured ; and after a pause, as if speaking to himself, he 
whispered, " whom he loveth he chasteneth ! " 

" He is so patient," said his mother, in a subdued, 
broken voice, " always so considerate of my inability 
to furnish him with what he needs, that it seems all the 
harder to have him denied." 

" The Saviour bad not where to lay his head," came 
faintly from the parched lips ; " oh, my mother, trust, 
trust ! " 



54 THE EBONY IDOL. 

With a wild, despairing impulse, the mother threw 
herself upon her knees by the bedside of her son. 

" I have trusted, my son, until the last ray of hope 
is quenched by the deep waters that overwhelm us ! 
He heareth not, though I cry unto him night and day. 
The waves have gone over me ! " 

" My mother, is his arm shortened, that he cannot 
save ? " 

" Why, then," she cried, frantically, " does he leave 
us to this last and most terrible struggle ? Why does 
he lead us where our strength fails us ? " 

" His will be done, my mother ! " 

" Oh, Edward, was # it for this I bore you ? was it for. 
this we have struggled through our long night of ad- 
versity ? When have you not denied yourself to min- 
ister to my comfort ? And now, when you lie here, 
helpless and suffering, before my eyes" — 

Mrs. Bryan laid her hand softly upon her shoulder, 

" My dear friend, have you forgotten how Abraham 
was tempted ? yet his faith prevailed ! " 

" Did he see the son, a thousand times dearer than 
his own life, linger. month after month upon the verge 
of the grave, as I see mine, without the power to com- 
mand the means of salvation ? The soul strengthens 
itself for trials like his — but my heart is broken by long 
suffering, and I could well-nigh curse God and die ! " 

A low moan of anguish burst from the lips of Ed- 



THE EBONY IDOL. 55 

ward, and smote with reproachings the heart of the 
kneeling mother. 

" May God forgive me," she said ; " never till this 
day have I known despair." 

" Was it right so to distrust your friends ? " asked 
Mrs. Bryan, reproachfully. " "Why did not you come 
to us ? " 

" And so I would ; but last night, when wood and 
candles were both gone, and I asked Edward if he could 
stop a little by himself, he looked so earnestly in my 
face, and said, ' Mother, don't beg — not even for me ! ' 
6 But I cannot see your face,' I cried. 6 No matter,' he 
said, ' with the holy starlight, and your warm heart 
beating near me, it cannot be dark or cold ! ' And so, 
with my arms around him, and his face pressed to mine, 
as we used to slumber in his infancy, he prayed and 
slept." 

The arm of Nannie embraced her. 

"Look up, poor, stricken heart, and behold the 
signs of promise ; for the rainbow is spanning even this 
darkest of clouds." 

It was the tone of exultation, rather than the words 
of Mrs. Bryan, that met the ear of the sufferer. For 
the first time, Edward became conscious of her pres- 
ence. He smiled his welcome, and motioned to her to 
take his hand. His eye fell upon the familiar carpet- 



" What have you brought me to-night ? " he asked, 



56 THE EBONY IDOL. 

feebly, but with a look of childish delight, for he knew 
his visitor never came empty-handed. 

Who that has ever brought to the fainting invalid 
a luxury, but has recalled that gleam of gratitude, long 
years after the speaking eye has been sealed in death ? 
How gratefully he smiled his recognition of favorite 
delicacies — the box of fresh figs — the lemons — and little 
jars of home-made jellies — and lastly, the generous 
wine, and the loaf of bread, which, under Nannie's 
skilful fingers, always became so wondrously white and 
dainty. 

The tearful, but smiling eyes of Edward, sought the 
face of his mother, as with a low, tremulous voice, he 
repeated those exquisite lines of Cowper — 

" Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, 
But trust him for his grace ; 
Behind a frowning Providence, 
He hides a smiling face 1 " 

" Sinner that I am," cried the penitent widow, rais- 
ing her clasped hands and streaming eyes to heaven, 
" lay not this great sin to my charge ! Henceforth, 
though thou slay me, yet will I trust in thee ! " 

" But oh, Mrs. Bryan, as I lay there last night, with 
Edward's hot palm pressed to mine, looking up into the 
heavens so radiant with God's workmanship, his very 
glory seemed to taunt me with my nothingness — the 
moonlight mocked me with its cold, calm light ; and in 
heaven, or upon earth, no voice answered to my great 



THE EBONY IDOL. 57 

agony ! Sinner that I was and am ! His mercy smites 
me like a rod ! " 

It was then that Nannie, with her kind heart all 
aglow, revealed to these afflicted sufferers the messages 
of which she was bearer. " I met Mr. Rusk this after- 
noon, and he wished me to hand you this order, as an 
earnest that he would send you two cords of wood at 
any time you might desire." 

Mrs. "Wellman took the paper, and burst into a flood 
of tears. 

" And Mr. Noyes, who has never forgotten your 
kindness to his children, when they were so sick last 
summer, sent his order, also, for some groceries, which 
he hoped might not come amiss, now that Edward was 
sick himself. Ten dollars ! And, Mrs. "Wellman, you 
have always been so kind and sympathetic towards us 
all when we have been in affliction, and Edward, too, 
was always doing little favors for the whole neighbor- 
hood, that we felt- as if we must be allowed to make 
you some useful present, now that you are in the same 
kind of trouble yourself. "We hardly knew what you 
wanted most, so we made up a little purse, thinking 
you could use the money to better advantage for your- 
self than we could for you. Do not feel the least deli- 
cacy in appropriating it, for we shall always remain in 
your debt, even were it a hundred times more than it 
is. The purse will at least express the sincerity of our 
3* 



58 THE EBONY IDOL. 

affection for you, and as such, we know you will not 
refuse it." 

"With the cry of one exhausted with excitement, and 
hysterical with sudden joy, the widow threw herself 
upon her knees, upon the very spot where she had so 
recently moaned out her despair, and with quivering 
lips, poured forth a petition of such utter abandonment, 
that Nannie flung herself by her side, and sobbed aloud 
in her full-souled sympathy. 

The earnest faith of the invalid was unmoved by 
the blessing, as it had been by the gathering storm — 
and his voice grew clearer and stronger, as he cried, ex- 
ultingly, " It is the Lord's work, and it is marvellous 
in our eyes ! " 



CHAPTEE Til. 



" I allow your tongue free license 
On all my other faults ; but on your life 
No word of Cleopatra."— All for Love. 



Leaving Mrs. Wellman and her son to enjoy all the 
surprise and gratitude, and earnest thanksgiving ex- 
cited by Mrs. Bryan's Christian visit, we turn our steps 
again toward the little white cottage of the parsonage. 

The firelight gleams out invitingly through the 
muslin curtains, and as we catch glimpses of the group 
within, we loiter at the window to muse over and enjoy 
the domestic tableau. Mr. Cary is sitting in his arm- 
chair, with an open manuscript in his hand, from which 
he has apparently been reading. Mrs. Cary, for any 
appearances to the contrary, may have been occupying 
her sewing-chair since the first evening we made her 
acquaintance. The same gown of dark stuff — the same 
plain, white collar — the hair so perfectly arranged — the 
same placid countenance — even the hearth seems to 
have remained unlittered — the "OTsses to have been un- 
tarnished. The knitting, too, lies upon the table, while 



60 THE EBONY IDOL. 

the form of little Lucy, in the graceful repose of child- 
hood, half in shadow, and half in the bright, warm 
hearth light, forms a pretty picture in the space between 
the chairs of the two. Lucy's head, true to the instincts 
of nature, seeks the mother's lap, while the soft, silken 
curls steal out from beneath the caressing hand of the 
mother, and glimmer upon the dark cloth, like ripples 
of water kissed by the silvery moonlight. 

The eyes of the clergyman were taking in this 
charming home scene ; but true to the one idea that 
had so completely absorbed the man, had transformed 
the sleeping innocent into a poor, benighted slave-girl, 
kneeling for mercy at the feet of her cruel mistress. 
Mrs. Cary, on the contrary, having listened attentively 
to her husband's discourse for the ensuing Sabbath, 
was seriously revolving in her mind the probable re- 
sults attendant upon its delivery, and enjoying, as far 
as her hojpeful nature would allow, the " dark delight " 
of anticipated evil. 

"Mr. Cary," she said at length, respectfully, and 
half timidly, " I can see no possible good resulting from 
such a sermon as that. Of late, you have spoken most 
fully upon the subject of slavery, and you know very 
well how those sermons have been received. If it is 
your duty, as you think, to define your own position, 
and give your reasons for doing so, you have already 
committed yourself wm, manner which allows of no 
misconstruction, and it does seem to me that those dis- 



THE EBONY IDOL. 61 

courses are sufficient. Where is the necessity of irri- 
tating our people with arguments which most of them 
understand as well as you do ? " 

Had a bomb exploded in the auricular, chambers of 
the reverend gentleman's caput, it is uncertain whether 
then his dignity could have been more effectually rout- 
ed, than when Mrs. Cary, his own wife, presumed to 
question the justice and perfection of Mr. Cary's deci- 
sions ! His thick, heavy eyebrows curled themselves 
into such an elevated arch of astonishment — his eyes 
darted forth such midnight blackness — and his whole 
figure dilated with such indignation, that we greatly 
doubt Mrs. Cary's ability to have resumed the thread of 
her discourse, had not her own gaze, either evasively or 
absorbedly, been fixed upon the superior polish of those 
brass andirons ! Such being the case, in innocent un- 
consciousness of the sublimity of the elements opposite 
her, she went on : 

" For ten years our little church has been increasing 
in numbers, and gathering strength from the character 
and wealth of its members. We have had none of 
those dissensions too often found in churches — we have 
had no cases of dismissal — and the people of Minden 
have invariably manifested the kindest and most affec- 
tionate disposition toward us. During the last year the 
state of religion has been unusually interesting ; our 
evening meetings have been fully attended, and our 
seasons for private conversations more frequented than 



62 THE EBONY IDOL. 

ever before since we came here. Several of our young 
people have seemed quite seriously minded, and some 
of them almost persuaded to be Christians ! 

" Now, Mr. Cary, allow me to ask, if in this state 
of things, it is desirable to bring forward abolitionism, 
which has proved so fatal everywhere to the welfare of 
the churches ? knowing as ^e do that attention will be 
averted from the great cause of Christ's kingdom — un- 
kind feelings be engendered — inquirers will drop off — 
church members secede, and before two years I venture 
to predict you will stand a sad spectator of the spoils 
your own hands have wrought in God's vineyard ! " 

" Mrs. Cary," exclaimed the now exasperated cler- 
gyman, " do you suppose a minister of the Gospel 
should, for a moment, be influenced in his own percep- 
tions of duty by the effect that will be produced ? " 

" But a minister is as liable to be misled by his pas- 
sions and prejudices as the rest of mankind ! Can it 
be the duty of a clergyman to repeat what experience 
everywhere proves to have resulted in evil ? " 

" I tell you," shouted Mr. Cary, " the people are 
asleep in this great cause of equality and freedom. 
They have forgotten, or closed their eyes to the solemn 
fact that millions of our brethren, as good by nature as 
we are, and far better by practice, are at this hour ex- 
tending their manacled hands toward the North, and 
uttering the Macedonian cry, ' Come over and help us ! ' 
This great national sin is hanging like a millstone round 



THE EBONY IDOL. 



63 



our necks, accumulating vengeance every day of our 
lethargy ; and who, I ask, shall cry aloud upon the 
walls of Zion, and sound the tocsin of alarm, but we, 
who are set as the watchmen upon the towers thereof? 
It is not for us, the prophets of the Most High, to sleep 
on ' flowery beds of ease,' while this portion of our 
brethren are perishing daily in worse than heathenish 
darkness before our eyes ! " 

"My dear," 
said Mrs. Cary, :: ^^,^:^^:^^ : _.^ 

" I do not ques- 
tion the wants of 
this portion of 
the unsanctified. 
But is the soul of 
a black more val- 
uable than that 
of a white, that 
you are ready to 
purchase its re- 
demption by 
such fearful sac- 
rifices of your 
own people? Has 
not God, by 

placing you in Minden, and blessing your labors here, 
indicated his purpose that here should be your field of 
action, and that for these people you should exert faith- 




64 ' . THE EBONY IDOL. 

fully what talent and usefulness lie has been pleased to 
bestow upon you ? Have you a right, before God, to 
sacrifice their interests to this new zeal for a people who 
do not and never can come under the influence of your 
preaching — whose masters, even, will never know that 
such a man as Mr. Cary of Minden village ever lived, 
moved, or had his being ? You can sacrifice your peo- 
ple here, to be sure — a people for whom some minister 
must labor ! If you forsake them, who will gather up 
the scattered flock ? So long as the unconverted and 
the inquiring meet you at every step, how can you feel it 
duty not only to waste ^abbath after Sabbath in preach- 
ing upon subjects foreign to the great theme of salva- 
tion, but by diverting their attention, and irritating 
their personal prejudices, drive them from church, and 
harden their hearts with bitterness and rancor ? You 
will destroy your own usefulness, and ultimately the 
vital piety of your people ! " 

" You reason like a woman," returned Mr. Cary, 
with what was intended to be a tone of dignified re- 
buke, but which to our unsophisticated ears resembled 
rather the accent of dogged sullenness. " We clergy- 
men profess the great principle of equality and freedom 
to be included in the plan of salvation, and to be a part 
of the Gospel we are called to proclaim. All national 
sins are local sins, inasmuch as the sins of individuals 
make up the sins of the masses : to put down sin 
wherever and in whatsoever guise it exists is our mis- 



THE EBONY IDOL. 65 

sion. Whoever at the North sanctions or even regards 
with indifference the existence of slavery at the South, is 
as culpable before God of that sin as if he actually bar- 
tered in human flesh. ' He that is not for me is against 
me.' 

"It is by agitating the subject of slavery at the 
North, that the South will be brought to- reflect upon 
the heinousness of their traffic — ' A little leaven leav- 
eneth the whole lump.' It is not. to be expected the 
South will throw away their slave property of their 
own free will. The drowning man clings not unfre- 
quently to his gold, until the weight of it seals his 
doom ! It is human nature to prefer wealth to princi- 
ple ; and the South will cling to slavery so long as it is 
for the interests of their purses. The reform, therefore, 
must commence at the North, among those who have 
no interest in the manual labor of the slave — who can 
analyze its good and evil deliberately, and like a good 
physician probe the wound freely, that in time it be 
healed." 

" Mr. Cary, you forget that this subject so newly 
agitated by you, is an old, well-tested experiment abroad. 
The wound has been probed, and the physicians are 
abundant everywhere, who stand, probe in hand, itching 
to lay the cruel hurt open to the very bone. For 
years they have been longing to cut the throats of their 
Southern brethren in cold blood — to tear down our na- 
tional flag — dissever the Union, and all under the hypo- 



66 THE EBONY IDOL. 

critical pretence of removing their own self-righteous- 
ness as far as possible from these sinful Sadducees. 
Never were words more applicable than those of our 
Saviour ! i Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hyp- 
ocrites ! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which 
appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead 
men's bones, and of all uncleanness ! Why, if our phi- 
lanthropists so thirst for the suppression of evil, do they 
not bestir themselves in the thousand and one reforms 
demanded in the North, and which affect our present 
and eternal welfare quite as much as this question of 
Southern sin ! It seems to me, that instead of inflam- 
matory speeches delivered behind people's backs — in- 
stead of stealing and secreting their property, to prove 
that they have no right to it — instead of sending hot- 
headed, half-educated, addled-brained Yankees to stir 
up strife, and instruct the blacks how to murder their 
masters and raise insurrection, they would do better to 
cast out the devils that seem to have taken such entire 
possession of themselves. It has always been admitted, 
even by Northern men, that we are the severest of task- 
masters, and soonest yield to the seductions of slavery, 
when Southernized. I have no doubt some of our 
Northern shriekers are sincere ; but the greater portion, 
I honestly believe, are more tyrannical in their own' 
homes than half of the slaveholders. There is Job 
Lane, who is shrieking for liberty at every corner ! It 
was only a week ago that he was breathing out ven- 



THE EBONY IDOL. 67 

geance against tyranny, when David Dickey came to- 
ward him, and laying his hand upon his shoulder, 
asked, ' "Who are you ? It strikes me you are the very 
man who is notorious for beating his wife every week. 5 
Job lowered his sails, and was out of sight some time 
before his listeners had finished cheering ! "We have 
Northern slavery, too, if nothing but slavery is adapted 
to the talent of these reformers." 

" Mrs. Gary," cried her husband, groaning out his 
horror of her degeneracy, " you forget yourself. You 
remember what St. Pau — " But here the gentleman 
hesitated, not unmindful of Madam's previous comment 
upon the Apostle, and the private application which he 
did not care to have repeated. " Your zeal is not ac- 
cording to knowledge ! For one, I do not understand 
what you mean by Northern slavery ; please illustrate ! " 

"Well, then, there is Mrs. Brown, just across the 
way. Now I will defy you to name a single act in 
which that woman is a free agent ; and yet Mr. Brown 
is one of our own church members, and what is called 
an honest, intelligent citizen ; but he keeps his tyranni- 
cal heel upon that woman, as if she were a scorpion ! 
She has told me repeatedly, that since the moment she 
married Mr. Brown, she has been fettered day and night. 
Her domestic arrangements are all made subservient to 
Mr. Brown's inclinations ; she can neither leave home nor 
receive friends, without first obtaining his permission. 
If a new bonnet or dress is needed, it must be purchased 



68 THE EBONY IDOL. 

by Mr. Brown personally, and when it suits that gen- 
tleman's convenience. As for money, she told me not 
a month since, that if every odd cent she had possessed 
since her marriage was added, she had never been the 
possessor of two dollars ; and that often she had been 
obliged to resort to all kinds of subterfuges to conceal 
the pecuniary manners of her husband, when she had 
been solicited to contribute to charitable objects. She 
is never allowed to sell her butter or cheese or eggs, or 
any of the farm produce that replenishes the purse of 
the farmer's wife ; and yet, sick or well, she must stand 
at her post in the kitchen, the dairy — as the mother of 
eight children, and the mistress of his house — and last, 
but not least, the eternal drudge of Mr. Brown him- 
self, who, however blind he might have been before mar- 
riage to her imperfections, is a conjugal Argus, which 
your favorite St. Paul might safely call ' a thorn in the 
flesh.' And now, what is her reward for this connubial 
servitude? She is graciously permitted to eat her 
stinted and homely fare from Mr. Brown's deal table ; 
to shelter her head beneath his crazy old farm roof ; and 
to be called Mrs. Brown ! and it is my humble opinion 
that this verj r upright and model husband would curtail 
even these advantages if he had the ability ! " 

" Ma-ri-ah, my dear," broke in Mr. Cary, with se- 
pulchral solemnity. 

" Don't Mariah me," cried the lady, who well knew 
that when her husband wished to be perfectly annihilat- 



THE EBONY IDOL. 60 

ing, he resorted to her Christian appellative ! " Please 
hear me out. It is possible Mrs. Brown's is an extreme 
case, but I think not an uncommon one. Men of inde- 
pendence and even affluence, do not hesitate to exercise 
this ungenerous and oppressive vigilance, and many an 
active, high-spirited girl degenerates into a hackneyed, 
hum-drum housekeeper, who, with suitable encourage- 
ments for indulging her laudable ambition, would have 
made her home a paradise, and her husband a wiser and 
happier man." 

" A little tainted with ' woman's rights/ " sneered 
the clergyman ! 

" Most emphatically, no ; but it has occurred to me 
that God created woman for some higher and nobler 
purpose, than to administer to the animal wants of 
Adam ! I remember, even now, a frail, sensitive crea- 
ture, who could never inure herself to the rough fetters 
of her Northern home. c Are you not well fed ? ' asked 
her practical husband. 6 Oh, yes. 5 c Are you not suit- 
ably clothed ? ' c Oh, yes.' ' Then, what more can you 
possibly ask for % ' growled her owner ! She was the 
most perfect of housekeepers — the fondest of mothers 
— the most faithful of wives — and yet she drooped, and 
stole silently away to the spirit land. The soul smiled 
even in death, and most beautiful we thought her, as 
we strewed the chilled clay with flowers, and folded her 
small hands upon the symbol of her faith. A few said, 
she had drooped for the inner sunshine and dew which 



70 THE EBONY IDOL. 

some natures so yearn after ; but her husband, who had 
clothed and fed her, and the world, too, said she had 
died of consumption. So with the proceeds of domestic 
economy he purchased her a handsome marble, and 
upon it wrote his own eulogy ! He went into becoming 
mourning — became bland and youthful, and a few 
months after married a buxom, showy lass, who made 
butter and cheese, pudding and pies, and is lauded by 
her husband as a model woman. 

" I do not know," said Mrs. Cary, musingly, " which 
is the most to be* dreaded, domestic or national bond- 
age ; both are bad enough, certainly. Let us not over- 
look the evils of the one in our misguided zeal for the 
other ! " 

Mrs. Cary stooped to raise the manuscript, which 
had fallen from her husband's hand, and glancing at 
his face, had the mortification of perceiving that Som- 
nus had strewn him with poppies, and borne him to the 
land of Nod ! 

The look of surprised vexation with which this dis- 
covery was made, yielded to a comic smile of good hu- 
mor, as placing the manuscript upon the table, Mrs. 
Cary resumed her knitting, gazing with half-shut eyes 
upon the dying embers, and yielding the reins to fancy, 
plunged into the shadowy realms of the past and future. 



CHAPTEE VIII. 

Teaching that all opinion is but vanity. — Menandee. 

The Sabbath following the somniferous argument 
of our good dame of the parsonage, found Mr. Cary 
armed and equipped according to the requirements 
of the abolition law, gnashing his teeth at the slave* 
holder, hinting at swords and pistols, hurling thunder- 
bolts at the stars and stripes, and even shaking his own 
two corporeal fists in the very face and eyes of our 
Union ! 

Squire Bryan deluded, by the late charitable dis- 
course into the belief that Mr. Cary, having said his 
say, was returning to his good old church-going ways, 
and being in a quizzical complaisant mood, laid his 
lame foot upon the cushion, and making himself gene- 
rally comfortable, proceeded to listen with the most 
devout and undivided attention. Now, as Squire Bryan 
was the " Washington Potts " of Minden village, the 
mere fact that he chose to listen was sufficient of itself 
to secure the attention of a large portion of the audience. 



72 THE EBONY IDOL. 

We do not propose giving even the outline of Mr. 
Cary's discourse. Such sermons have rung from our 
pulpits, until every sensible man and woman too, has 
turned away heart-sick from the house of God. The 
congregation dispersed silently, and more than one in- 
dividual as he passed through the church-door, regis- 
tered a vow never to enter its portals again, so long as 
the pastor chose to prostitute his sacred desk to the dis- 
semination of such practical falsehood. 

" We have political meetings enough," said young 
Stebbins, " without paying our ministers to preach 
politics. I went to church with a real desire to hear 
and get good, but see, how vexed I am ! One had 
better stay at home than feel so," and young Stebbins 
never entered the church again. As for Squire Bryan, 
he went home, lighted his Havana, assumed that ele- 
vated position men find so congenial to pedal comfort, 
and closing his eyes communed with his own heart and 
was still. 

The next day, however, the Squire was at his office 
window, and, as Mr. Cary made his daily call at the 
Post, the window was raised, and the Squire's sonorous 
voice was heard inviting the reverend gentleman to 
enter. 

" Mr. Cary," he said, " it is time for you and I to 
understand each other. I have always regarded you 
as an honest and upright man, have respected your 
good sound common sense, and relied upon you both 



THE EBONY IDOL. 73 

as my temporal and spiritual guide. As for the last, 
God knows, I have great need of one. Business men, 
like myself, plunged all the week in turmoil and 
strife, and looking only upon the darkest phases of 
humanity, regard the Sabbath with an affection that 
persons with common cares can never experience. You 
know, sir, that I have always been a regular and atten- 
tive listener, though I make no professions as a Chris- 
tian ; still, I remember a few halcyon days, far back in 
my boyhood, when a few of us thought we ' indulged 
hope,' and held our little prayer-meetings in the pine 
woods around the old school-house. It was a delusion, 
no doubt, but I very often, even at this late day, find 
myself singing over our hymns with something of the , 
old feeling.' Here the Squire paused, drummed mus- 
ingly upon the table with his finger tips, and whistled 
softly, a part of the sweet old tune " The Bower of 
Prayer." 

" But I beg your pardon, Mr. Cary," he said, arous- 
ing himself from dream-land, with a quick motion of 
the head. " As I was saying, the Sabbath is dear to 
me as a season of repose, both mental and spiritual, if 
it can be allowed to such as me to speak of spirituality, 
and I cannot see you converting its sacred hours into 
political capital without real pain and regret." 

" Squire Bryan," said Mr. Cary, " I am sensible you 
have taken offence at my discourses upon the subject 
of slavery, nor are you the only person of my congre- 
4 



74 THE EBONY IDOL. 

gation ; yet, as your influence is more extensive than 
many others, it is perhaps more to be regretted." 

" Mr. Cary, I presume our views upon the real 
nature and influence of slavery are exceedingly similar. 
But this I do know, that no clergyman is called of God 
to make stump speeches in his desk ; and I, for one, 
enter my protest against such sermons as you have 
chosen to present for our consideration these few Sab- 
baths past. And if you persist in forcing upon us such 
sentiments as these, I tell you, once for all, you will be 
responsible for more evil and more sin, than you can 
ever atone for, if you live to the age of Methusaleh ! " 

" How can truth be productive of sin ? " asked 
Mr. Cary. 

" Truth in its purity, kindly and considerately pre- 
sented, will always be, if not attractive, at least palat- 
able. There are many things beside abolitionism that 
may have truth for its basis, that are equally unsuited 
to Sabbath day discussion," returned the Squire. 

" I always supposed a clergyman had a right to 
preach as his conscience dictated," said Mr. Cary. 

" I beg your pardon, Mr. Cary. If your conscience 
dictated to you to give us a lecture upon Taste or 
Music, you have no right to avail yourself of the Sab- 
bath day for that purpose ! c Will ye rob God ? ' ¥e 
have but one Sabbath in the week ; we certainly have 
need of all the good advice and godly counsel you can 
give us during the three hours you devote to us, to the 



THE EBONY IDOL. 75 

entire exclusion of all collateral topics. The subject of 
Temperance is certainly more closely connected with 
our moral reform, and Intemperance brings with it 
vastly greater evils than slavery ever can, and yet, you 
would not feel it duty, nor would you justify yourself in 
presenting that subject to us durjng the Sabbath day. 
It is not three months since you declined addressing 
us upon Temperance during Sabbath evening, although 
everywhere else, so far as I am informed, such meetings 
are approved. Now, sir, the facts are these : — The 
clergy have made slavery a perfect hobby. With a 
few honorable exceptions they have joined forces, pledg- 
ing to sustain each other. They presume upon the 
sacredness of their profession, and the confidence and 
prejudices of the people, to take such liberties with the 
church as they please. At first, the good old puritanic 
blood was triumphant ! Who dared question the 
clergy ? If a voice from the crowd uttered its indigna- 
tion, the Plymouth rock groaned to its centre, and cries 
of sacrilege and blasphemy resounded upon all sides ! 
But the clergy have carried this thing too far. — Their 
own imprudence has rent the veil asunder, and the 
people are reasoning for themselves ! They weary of 
this eternal harping upon the nigger-string ! There is 
no discretion discernible in the blind infatuation with 
which at all times and all seasons this one idea is 
shaken in our faces ! Now, I tell you what it is, Mr. 
Cary, you may preach these discourses to your heart's 



76 THE EBONY IDOL. 

content, but as for me or my house sitting under the 
droppings of any such degenerated sanctuary, you will 
see me damned first ! " 

" Squire Bryan," said Mr. Cary, gathering himself 
up with slow dignity, " you forget yourself ! " 

The Squire smiled bitterly. "Perhaps," he said, 
" that does savor of profanity, and yet, it very much 
resembles one of your own expressions, in your last 
Sabbath's discourse ! Did I not understand you to 
say, Mr. Cary," continued the Squire, " that if you ever 
flinched from this great work of emancipation, you 
prayed God to smite you in his just displeasure, and 
banish you from His pure presence, forever ? I think 
those were your very words. "Where is the difference 
save in our method of expressing ourselves ? I am 
simply the most honest. Without mincing the matter, 
there is a vast deal of polite profanity issuing from our 
pulpits, which falls very jarringly upon the ears of the 
world ! It is high time for the Pulpit to be purged 
from some of its abominations, or I venture to predict 
an era of religious death more fatal to America, than 
the darkest days of infidelity to France." 

Mr. Cary was silent. 

"You say, Mr. Cary, that you have a right to 
preach upon slavery and all other topics, which appear 
to you to be in the path of duty ! Now, sir, I wish to 
suggest this with proper respect and delicacy. You are 
a hired servant of the people, hired and paid to per- 



THE EBONY IDOL. 77 

form a given duty, viz., to preach the Gospel of Christ ; 
to visit and comfort our sick ; and promote, to the 
utmost of your ability, our spiritual interests ! You 
understand what we consider to be the Gospel, as taught 
by Christ. You know, that it is to preach this Gospel 
as we understand that word, that you are hired and 
paid, and that it is the kind of religion our humanity 
requires at your hands. Now, by what right do you 
pocket our money and deprive us of the thing bargained 
for ? If I hire a man to cut hay for me, and his incli- 
nation induces him to cut wood instead, would he be con- 
sidered a faithful servant ? Would you consider it any 
excuse for him to say he felt it his duty to cut wood ? 
No, sir, you would say emphatically, I know my own 
wants best, I engaged you to make hay, and it is hay 
you must cut. How many of our clergy, Mr. Cary, 
who are so zealous for the reform of our great national 
sins, would feel it their duty to sacrifice their churches 
in this manner, if their salaries were not promptly paid 
them ? Sir, I have no faith in this great hue and cry 
of duty ! I have no respect for the man who opposes 
his will to the common sense of the people. We know 
what our religious wants are better than you can tell 
us, but we grope blindly for the pearl of great price, 
and the wail of sinful despair is going up everywhere, 
'What shall we do to be saved?' Instead of going 
forth like good shepherds, and searching for the lost 
sheep which have fallen into the pit, and laying them 



78 THE EBONY IDOL. 

in. your bosoms, and bringing them tenderly into the 
sheep-fold, what do yon do ? Yon carry dissension 
and rebellion among the little flocks grazing so peace- 
fully in the green pastures and beside the still waters ! 
You render their food bitter and unpalatable, until 
they break from their enclosures, and wander up and 
down in strange places, seeking for the food that satis- 
fies the natural cravings of their souls ! They hear 
the voices of strange shepherds and they learn to be 
called by their names, and to follow after them, and 
when at length the sheep-cot is deserted, you fold your 
hands complacently, taunt the broken flock witn the 
wondrous depravity of their natures, and wash the 
blood of their destruction from your skirts ! " 

Still Mr. Cary was silent, his involuntary motions 
alone indicating his susceptibility. 

" Occasionally," resumed the Squire after a pause, 
" I have fancied you alluded to myself in your remarks. 
Especially when speaking of the election of certain 
men to public office. Men, whose positions, in regard 
to the reforms of the day, were not fully defined and 
understood ! The people generally, understood such to 
be your reference, and I wish to ask you directly, 
whether that inference was correct ! " 

" I cannot be held accountable for all people infer, 
Squire Bryan. You know the old adage, ' let him 
whom the coat fits, put it on.' " 



THE EBONY IDOL. 79 

" You should be above such subterfuges, Mr. Gary ! 
I desire you to answer yes or no ! " 

*Mr. Cary gave his chair a little hitch toward the 
table, and twirled his pencil with some embarrassment, 
but said with apparent candor : 

" Squire Bryan, why should you suppose I referred 
to yourself particularly ? Is not the w r orld full of 
political men, exerting all their influence in direct oppo- 
sition to the great interests of our national prosperity ? 
Men, destitute of principle, figuring simply for their 
own success and individual promotion ? " 

" Mr. Cary, I ask you again, did you, or did you 
not think of me personally in connection with your 
remarks ? "Will you please answer me without equivo- 
cation or mental reservation ? " 

Mr. Cary was silent. 

" Yes, or no ! " thundered the Squire. 

" Squire Bryan," said Mr. Cary, blandly, " I should 
be sorry to have any unpleasant feelings or unkind words 
pass between us. Allow me to wish you a good after- 
noon," and Mr. Cary taking his hat, moved toward the 
door. 

" Mr. Cary," said the Squire passionately, placing 
himself before the door, and facing that gentleman, 
with a right-about movement, "lam a plain spoken 
man, and I despise evasion wherever it is found ! 
Know, sir, that in one and all of my elections, I have 
never once canvassed for success. Never has a dime 



80 THE EBONY IDOL. 

left my hand or pocket for bribery, or parlance ; and, 
God knows as I have not paid others to fight for me, I 
will not pay a minister to fight against me in the purpit. 
This day, and this hour closes all social intercourse be- 
tween the Reverend Mr. Cary and Horace Bryan. 
Whoever sets himself up as my spiritual guide, shall at 
least be man enough in courage to meet his assertions 
face to face with the man he attacks, and the gentleman 
who is my friend, shall know how to answer yes or no, 
without trusting to his cloth to protect him from being 
called to an honest account for both deeds, and words ! " 
Squire Bryan opened the door to its widest extent, 
inviting the gentleman by a motion of his hand, to 
avail himself of free passage ; but Mr. Cary hesitated 
upon the threshold, and holding his hat in one hand 
extended the other amicably toward the indignant 
Squire. 

" No, sir," cried the Squire, drawing himself up 
with dignity, " the foe who honestly opposes me in the 
broad glare of day, I have always respected ; but the 
hand that seeks to wound me covertly, and the lips 
that betray with a kiss, are more to be loathed than 
the slimy trail of the serpent ! " 



OHAPTEE IX. 

" Whose names shall be a portion in the hatch 
Of the heroic dough that baking Time 
Kneads for consuming ages. 1 '— Monody on Sam Patch. 

The political excitement, which for months had been 
gathering strength and intensity all over the country, 
as the party candidates for the presidency had elucidat- 
ed their platforms, and eaten their " hasty plates of 
soup " with a secretary at their elbows, approached our 
remote village of Minden with great tardiness. 

The inhabitants who wanted but " little here below," 
had vegetated with quiet stolidity ; the knowedge of 
luxuries even being confined to a few individuals whom 
business called to the cities, or such as were inoculated 
by summer visits from fashionable cousins, who are es- 
pecially prone to remember their poor relations during 
the dog-days ! So the good people quaffed their mugs 
of old cider, on great occasions indulged in a glass of 
currant wine — smoked their old-fashioned clay pipes — . 
kept aloof from stimulants— and were, or fancied they 
were, as well to do in the world as their neighbors. 
4* 



82 



THE EBONY IDOL. 



But even the sleep of the Ephesian sisters ended ; and 
so, alas ! did the repose of Minden ! Its peaked moun- 
tains and shaggy pines — its terrific boulders of granite, 
and interminable stage-roads could not shield it from 
those political nuisances who pry into every inhabitable 
nook and corner where a poor voter has taken refuge ; 
hunting him up and smoking him out with an assidu- 
ousness more indomitable than was manifested by Put- 
nam in his famous attack upon the wolves ! 




Would-be-orators, sighing for Ciceronic laurels, like 
Kachel weeping for her children, lifted up their maiden 



THE EBONY IDOL. 83 

voices and mourned over the wrongs of their injured 
country ! They sighed and groaned. They threw their 
hands before, and their coat-tails behind, presenting to 
the astonished and gaping crowd the fac-simile of a victim 
of Asiatic cholera ! Men who had grown old and gray- 
haired, rejoicing as did Sam Slick in " this glorious and 
enlightened republic," grew pale at the imminent peril 
of the Union ! while young men, who in their boyhood 
had been whipped into small recollections of revolution- 
ary dates and struggles, and had sighed for the balmy 
hour to arrive when they too could " strut their brief 
hour upon the village green " in white breeches and an 
epaulette, grew faint-hearted as the speaker smote his 
knuckles together and pummelled his hands to jelly, by 
way of illustrating the terrific crash of the political 
spheres ! while to the vision of one and all, the dear little 
valley of Minden lay stretched out, a second Wyoming, 
all stark and gory, the men marching in single file to 
execution, over the cold corpses of scalped matrons and 
maidens ! 

At the close of these interesting performances, while 
the honest-hearted inhabitants went home to weep by 
their firesides, so soon to be whelmed in the universal 
crash of the republic ; our exhausted orators retired to 
the private room of the hotel, to grow jubilant over 
whiskey skins, and wash down their griefs for their 
guillotined country with choice brands of Madeira ! 

Gradually a few private clubs were formed for the 



84 



THE EBONY IDOL. 



furtherance of political successes. Champagnes were 
inadequate to " keep the spirits up," and occasionally 
brandy was used as a substitute. Politics grew stale ; 
whist and billiards were a relief, and small stakes added 




to the excitement, The hours for dispersion grew later 
and later, until they extended into the " wee-sma'-hours," 
when young men " led each other home," " baying at 
the moon ; " and married men with families, to whom 
they should have been " a great ensample," forgetful of 
the moral contained in the inimitable Tam-o'-Shanter, 



THE EBONY IDOL. 85 

returned misty-eyed in the gray morn, only to grow 
sober, and alive to their revel's head-ache, to the music 
of a conjugal Caudle ! 

Delightful little bits of village gossip filled the at- 
mosphere like thistle-down ! Reputations exploded like 
fulminating powder ! Hearts, which for years had 
been twining in true-love knots, burst asunder, and dear 
little Cupid, maimed and crippled, was borne insensible 
from the field ! 

Husbands and wives who had tottered " together " 
up hill and down — who had " my-dear'd " each other 
in public, arM sat hand in hand, that the artist might 
perpetuate their love with their beauty, now stalked at 
antipodes, and bolted their food with the sullenness of 
boa-constrictors ! 

Corpulent and feeble men, who, when within doors, 
found it impossible to stoop for a pair of slippers, 
trudged through mud and sleet in torch-light proces- 
sions, until chilblains and rheumatism "gave them 
Jesse," and not even the intimation of the Leaders that 
it was time to " hooray," could keep alive their amor 
patri without frequent libations of water (and brandy) ! 

No wonder, tnen, that with Satan laboring so zeal- 
ously for the world's people, and Mr. Cary so undevot- 
edly for the church, that between the two, the morals 
and religion of our pet village should have rapidly de- 
clined. The inquiry meetings were deserted by such 
young men as found politics enough at their clubs, and 



86 THE EBONY IDOL. 

from refusing to attend church they came to neglect 
every thing of a religions character. Professors grew 
lukewarm and negligent, and by and by, Mr. Cary 
preached to children and women, his deacons, and such 
of his male hearers as coincided with his opinions, or 
whose apathy rendered them indifferent to his isms. 

Mrs. Cary mourned sometimes to her spouse, but 
oftener to herself, as she saw her own gloomy prophe- 
cies so rapidly fulfilled ; while her husband, wedded to 
his unyielding stubbornness of purpose, knew no re- 
lenting, nor would he, had he seen that whole church 
mangled and bleeding at his feet. He, the reverend 
Mr. Cary, was infallible, as the truth whose exponent 
he professed to have become ! 

It was surprising with what rapidity the parishion- 
ers became conversant with Mr. Cary's whole history. 
Although his reputation had remained so spotless during 
his sojourn in Minden, it was now suddenly revealed 
that even the best of men have their foibles, and that 
Mr. Cary was " no better than he should be." 

We doubt whether adversity contains a finer or more 
impressive chapter, than jthe one we read so tearfully 
and with burning cheeks, every word of which burns 
into our hearts like molten iron, revealing to us that 
when the dark hours of our life lower around us, and 
we sway in the tempest like broken reeds, clutching at 
the hands that have caressed us to break our fall, those 
very fingers wrench away the frantic grasp, and hurl 



THE EBONY IDOL. 87 

us with greater precipitancy into the vortex of our de- 
spair ! 

How seldom a bold, manly spirit comes to the rescue 
of a brother's mangled reputation, and looking the 
world in the face, laughs its petty malice to scorn ! 
Secretly the deadly virus circulates in society, until the 
entire community is inoculated, and the victim stands 
aghast to find himself shunned like the Upas ! Friends 
whom he would have sworn' were true, 

" Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer, 
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer 1" 



w$ 



CHAPTER X. 

M And in that day seven women shall take hold upon one man."—ISAiAH. 

The ladies of Minden, whose tender hearts had been 
more particularly touched through the appeals of Mr. 
Cary on behalf of those fellow beings whose only fault 
was their color, now thought it time that they should 
" take a position," and a meeting was called, which was 
understood to be preliminary to the formation of a 
" Carean African Aid Society." 

This meeting was held at the house of Miss Dickey, 
the prime mover — a person of whom the reader only 
knows through a brief interview with our friend Nannie. 
It is due to her position, and the dignity of this history, 
that she should be now regularly introduced. 

Every village boasts its bas-bleu ; a character as es- 
sential to its completeness as that of the Physician and 
the Lawyer ! Miss Dickey was one of those sentimen- 
tal demi-intellectual personages, who seem to have been 
born with a book in their hand, and to have been pre- 
destined from the cradle to become at the verv least the 



THE EBONY IDOL. 89 

" school ma'am " of the township ! At twelve years 
she had experienced the pangs of " first love," and dur- 
ing the entire period of the " teens" had run such a 
heart gauntlet that at twenty that organ was as callous 
and impervious to the arrows of Cupid, as the skin of 
an alligator to the shafts of his pursuer ! Like all 
such precocious phenomena, she had been old at fifteen, 
young at thirty-five ; in which autumnal splendor we 
present her to our readers. After the marriage of her 
brothers and elder sisters, and the death of her parents, 
which last event had left her an orphan at the tender 
age of twenty-five, and an annuity which made her 
quite the heiress of Minden, she had retired from public 
instruction, confining her efforts to " classes" and' select 
schools, whither the young ladies resorted, " with two 
towels and a spoon ! " 

These she instructed in all sorts of absurdities : to 
read " la langue Francaise " — to convert innocent little 
birds and lambs into monstrosities, and to embroider 

"Their woe on satin, 
The graves in green, the grass in black, 
The epitaphs in Latin 1 " 

Miss Dickey was given to «a variety of charming 
personal conceits. She never could believe that the 
admiring glances directed toward the windows and 
church pews could possibly be designed for any but 
herself. She never failed to acknowledge the serenades, 
and carry in her pocket with extreme tenderness the 






90 



THE EBONY IDOL. 



poetical raptures with which, some consuming swain 
had relieved his passion, and left anonymously at the 
gate of his charmer. The strange and irresistible youth, 

and slashing cha- 
riot, that she ex- 
pected to see at 
any moment 
drive up to her 
door and bear her 
off, regardless of 
her cries and the 
village wonder, to 
some far, strange 
castle, is unima- 
ginable. 

She was the 
confidant of all 
distraught lovers, and wrote an immense number of 
rhyming love-letters for such as possessed small lingual 
developments ! From time immemorial she had rev- 
elled in " scenes " and " costumes " and " original the- 
atricals." She composed dialogues and dramas for the 
young people, invariably playing the part of the hero- 
ine herself, especially if she was supposed to be youth- 
ful and despairing ! Our heroine possessed also an in- 
tense passion for " tangled dells " and " sleepy hollows," 
haunted houses and old ruins, and if they were not in- 
fested with myths and hobgoblins it was no fault of 




f 



THE EBONY IDOL. 91 

Miss Dickey's, who was never weary of roving around 
them by moonlight, much to the annoyance of her pupil- 
lovers, who had stolen out through the windows to ex- 
change vows with their village worshippers; 

Of late years Miss Dickey had grown weary of 
bright eyes and blushing cheeks, and had lavished her 
affections upon the animal kingdom, which certainly 
was more susceptible to her attractions. Indeed, her 
domicile was a kind of stationary menagerie, where 
goats, dogs, cats, rabbits, parrots, birds and domestic 
fowls congregated, each rejoicing in the most euphonious 
of cognomens; and if Miss Dickey's eulogiums were 
to be considered orthodox, the most remarkable of their 
species ! The goat from his valor had been christened 
the Duke of "Wellington ; the greyhound was known 
as " Lord Mortimer ;" the cat was called Euphemia ; 
the rabbits were affecting remembrancers of Cowper's 
pet " hares ; " while the canaries were a host of " ar- 
tistes," of whose names we frankly confess ourselves 
ignorant. 

Although an "orphan," as Miss Dickey always 
tearfully called herself, it will be seen that she was by 
no means the lorn woman she mightjiave been ! Living 
as she did in the " bosom of her interesting family," 
and devoting herself intently to its interests, Miss 
Dickey's humanity might have completely ossified, 
but for the one little channel that chance had kept open 
to her. 



92 THE EBOKY IDOL. 

An elder sister having married unfortunately, and 
died of a broken heart, had left her only possession, a 
son, as a memento to her friends. So long as the grand- 
parents had lived, the family had united in annihilating 
the amiabilities of the motherless David. He had been 
scolded and caressed alternately during the entire period 
of his childhood, while his little gastric tube had been 
converted into a miniature railway for the conveyance 
of little barley dogs and cats, which were incessantly 
availing themselves of that conveyance. Possibly, it 
was his greediness of appetite that gave to the boy's 
eyes that projecting, half-frightened appearance, which 
David wears to this day ; at all events he is free to 
confess that the prominence of his ears is entirely arti- 
ficial, having been cultivated by listening to his aunt's 
secrets, and standing at the doorways ears up. 

As David's peculiar genius developed itself, he grew 
to be a perfect gad-fly upon his aunt's comfort ; but 
loving him as she did, equally at least with her animal 
kingdom, and considering him as her own personal 
property, the son of her orphanage, she held him to 
her heart as unflinchingly as did the Spartan lad the 
animal that devoured him. As David advanced in 
years, he made himself serviceable upon the homestead, 
ruled his aunt with his whimsical good humor, relieved 
her of all superfluities in the form of sweetmeats, cordials, 
and spending money, turned her richest sentimentalities 
to ridicule, assisted her imagination by personating 



THE EBONY IDOL. 93 

ghosts and headless men, and finally exhausted his small 
literary acquirements in sending her amorous valen- 
tines and mysterious love-letters. 

Of Miss Dickey's personal charms we . are silent. 
Old Father Time, who is never satisfied toying with 
young cheeks and raven locks, always seems unmindful 
of maidens of uncertain age. It is astonishing how 
years come and go, and little children grow up, and old 
people totter into the grave, while these maiden ladies, 
like Joshua's sun, seem to stand still in the mid-heav- 
ens ! never growing older, grayer, or stooping, but 
simply sallow and stifier — not decaying with years, but 
literally embalmed by time ! 

Such was the powerful founder of the Carean Afri- 
can Friend's Society ! who right valiantly did combat 
upon the side of her beloved pastor. She had compared 
Mr. Cary to all sorts of martyrs, and bustled about in 
his defence with a zeal that was particularly ungratify- 
ing to the minister's wife ! Indeed, had Miss Dickey 
been a beast of burden, she could not have labored more 
assiduously — bearing ever to the good man's ears the 
low gossip of the neighborhood ; she even wrote an elab- 
orate defence of that gentleman's tactics, which covered 
twelve sheets of foolscap. We do not propose to give it. 

The Carean African Friend's Society was organized, 
and Miss Dickey was of course honored with the presi- 
dency. The following is the speech delivered by her 
upon taking her seat : 



94 THE EBONY IDOL. 

" Ladies and — (ahem) — Ladies : 

" Being called most unexpectedly to occupy this au- 
gust chair, and preside over the deliberations of this 
intelligent society, I beg to be allowed to express my 
deep sense of my own unworthiness, and assure you 
that to the utmost of my feeble abilities I shall endeavor 
to discharge my arduous duties with faithfulness to my- 
self and constituents ! " 

" Be-au-tiful ! " whispered Mrs. Hobbs, nudging her 
neighbor, to which energetic admiration her friend re- 
sponded by a wink of approval ! 

" It is well understood that the object of our society 
is to devise ways and means to alleviate the sufferings 
of our colored brethren ! The best method of procedure 
is now open for discussion, and we should be glad if you 
would all express your sentiments and opinions freely ! " 

The silence was profound. 

" Don't all speak to once," whispered Mrs. Hobbs. 
The friend raised the tips of her left hand fingers to her 
mouth to conceal a bashful giggle. 

" Mrs. Baker, will you favor us with your views ? " 

" I do not feel competent to advise," said Mrs. Ba- 
ker, modestly ; " I am willing to unite heartily in any 
plan that can ameliorate the sufferings of black or 
white. I have no definite views in regard to the best 
method of alleviating the condition of slaves, unless we 
can give them their freedom and educate them like the 
whites." 



THE EBONY IDOL. 95 

" I should like to know who is going to educate 
them," asked Mrs. Smith ; " the South won't do it, 
that is certain, and we at the North are overrun now 
with town paupers and foreigners ! If any. one wishes 
to adopt niggers and their progeny, I hope they will 
have the chance to do it, if that's all ! " 

"I did not say it was expedient or advisable," re- 
turned Mrs. Baker, pleasantly ; " I said I did not know 
how we could benefit the slaves until they were edu- 
cated." 

" Now, ladies, I'll tell you what's what ! " chimed 
in Mrs. Hobbs ; " jest give 'em their liberty, and let 'em 
take care of theirselves ! them's Mr. Hobbs' and my 
opinion ! " 

" But, my dear, they never have been taught to 
take care of themselves," urged Mrs. Baker ; " it would 
be like casting children into the sea, and expecting 
them to swim without previous practice ! " 

" How ree-dic-u-lous ! " sneered Mrs. Hobbs ; " jest 
as if men and women who have worked all their lives 
for other folks with lickin', couldn't work for theirselves 
without lickin' ! I say, give 'em liberty — liberty or 
nurthin' ! what's the use of nurthin' at all, if you don't 
have liberty ! " 

" Well, how will you give them liberty ? " asked 
Mrs. Smith. 

" Buy 'em, if you can't get 'em any other way." 

" But who will buy them ? who can buy them ? " 



96 * THE EBONY IDOL. 

" "Why, abolitioners, of course," shouted Mrs. Hobbs. 

" My dear woman, all the abolitionists in Minden 
couldn't buy one black baby, and we are a fair sample, 
I suppose, of Northern abolitionists. We bear evil 
fruits enough, I allow, but the ' root of all evil' unfor- 
tunately doesn't flourish in our soil." 

" Well, I'd buy 'em, any way," persisted Mrs. Hobbs. 

" As Mrs. Baker says," said Mrs. Bryan, " I am 
willing to aid in every good work, but I must confess I 
do not see how we can permanently benefit the blacks 
unless we can educate them in some way ; and as that 
would be the work of ages, I think I should prefer hav- 
ing them liberated as rapidly as circumstances will 
admit, and returned to Africa. If we put them back 
where nature placed them, we at least are not respon- 
sible for their future unhappiness." 

" Perhaps not," suggested Mrs. Kimball, " but this 
generation were not born in Africa ; it is no more their 
country than ours. I don't imagine I should like to be 
packed off to Africa by my friends." 

Nannie laughed. " I did not think of that ; I guess, 
after all, it would be as well to let them alone ! " 

" I say buy 'em," cried a voice. " Steal 'em," added 
a second ;and forthwith a violent discussion sprang up, 
and a jargon of shrill voices rose one above the other, of 
which nothing was discernible but slave, sla — nig — nig- 
ger, nigger, nig — Cary, Africa, slave, nigger, nigger, nig ! 
Africa — Cary — nig ! The secretary held her pen in the 



THE EBONY IDOL. 97 

most stupid confusion, and " our own correspondent " 
retired with precipitancy. When they had fatigued 
themselves with clamor, and exhausted both their breath 
and their argument, it was discovered that the object 
of the society was more mystified than at the beginning, 
since they could not discover even their own motives 
or desires. 

" For my part," said Mrs. Smith, " I do not see 
what we have accomplished by our afternoon's 
meeting." 

" "Why," laughed Nannie, " we have agitated the 
subject." 

" And ourselves too," added Mrs. Kimball, dryly. 

Mrs. Baker advised that a committee of three be 
appointed to draft resolutions, and decide upon some 
method of procedure. For one she was ready, to assent 
to any thing. 

After a good deal of wrangling and loud talking, 
Mrs. Cary, Miss Dickey, and Mrs. Baker were nomi- 
nated, and the society adjourned. 

The next meeting was held at Mr. Smith's, and after 
the proper preliminaries it was decided to accumulate 
funds by all available means, prepare articles for sale, 
and have a fair early in the autumn ! This proposition 
was received with great unanimity, and our friends im- 
mediately bestirred themselves to gather up cloths 
and yarn, and were soon absorbed in linen, and needle- 
books, hosiery, and pin-cushions. 
5 



98 THE EBONY IDOL. 

Sewing circles of all descriptions are subject to great 
reverses of favor. One would suppose that being fairly 
adrift upon their benevolent mission, our friends could 
have steered their small crafts free of quicksands ! 
But a new difficulty presented itself ; as some of the 
members were more bountifully possessed of this 
world's goods than others, and had indulged in a little 
harmless display upon the occasions of their tea drink- 
ings ; the humbler members were not willing to expose 
the condition of their larder and china closet by endors- 
ing the refreshments that terminated the afternoon la- 
bors ! " They would prefer to go home before tea ! " 
Mrs. Johnson, who had a pretty plated tea-service, ob- 
jected decidedly ; for her part, she liked to get tea. 
Nannie, too, who doted upon setting a dainty table, 
protested it was the most unsocial proposition in the 
world ; it was so pleasant chatting over teacups ! Mrs. 
Baker, who more readily appreciated the motives for 
the suggestion, preferred to simplify the affair, arrang- 
ing the table with the family china, and confining the 
edibles to plain bread and cake. 

Mrs. Kimball said that, although she preferred a 
good tea, the nicer the better, still she was not difficult 
about her victuals ; she could eat in any way, or any 
thing, or could go without — any way to keep peace. 

Mrs. Smith laughingly suggested they should use 
rice and molasses, as an expression of sympathy for the 
slave ! 



THE EBONY IDOL. 99 

Mrs. Hobbs objected to plain cake and bread ; she 
thought they ought to be allowed three sorts — for her 
part, she always wanted doughnuts ! 

The inestimable Mrs. Johnson looked her contempt, 
while Nannie and Mrs. Kimball exchanged culinary 
smiles. 

Miss Dickey hoped the unimportant affair of eating 
would not occupy their attention for a moment. While 
Afric's sons were bleeding at every pore it ill-became 
them to " wrangle about the tea-table ;" and so the tea- 
drinking was referred to a " committee." 



CHAPTER XI. 

And when she ended, 

There'was a general cry of " Bravo ! Splendid ! "—The Sargent. 

Now, as if Providence had smiled upon our philan- 
thropists, and designed signally to reward their ardor, it 
was just at this time announced to Mr. Cary, by letter, 
that a fugitive slave, escaped from Alabama, would be 
forwarded directly to the protection of the Carean 
Friends Society. Expectation, not satisfied with the 
usual tip-tqe, got upon stilts. The society was thrown 
into a humming, buzzing, fluttering condition by this 
bit of intelligence ! 

Mr. Cary was compelled to read the letter over and 
over again to little groups in the corners, each of which 
persisted in misconstruing some passage, and reading 
the letter for themselves. The letter was lionized. 
Mr. Cary was asked all manner of questions, and urged 
to adopt as many ridiculous stratagems to secure the 
negro in safety. They would " barrel him up, and roll 
him in like a barrel of cider ! " " They would dress 
him in female garments ! " " They would paint him 
white ! " " They would box him up like Smyrna 



THE EBONY IDOL. 101 

figs ! " Indeed, the dear creatures exhausted their own. 
philanthropy, and poor Mr. Cary's patience, and went 
home supremely blest ! 

But the necessity of having some sensible person to 
act as the agent on the U. K. R., and receive the 
Ebony treasure at the station was soon seen, and this 
brings us to a point, where we must introduce to you 
Frank Stanton, Esq., better known in the neighborhood 
as Squire Bryan's Adonis ! 

Mr. Stanton was a fun-loving, but otherwise fastidi- 
ous young gentleman of family and pretensions, a rela- 
tive of Squire Bryan, with whom he had now been 
residing some time in elegant leisure under the pretence 
of " reading law " with the Squire. Of his father 
and family, nothing was particularly known in Minden, 
but he w^as indefinitely understood to be a Southerner. 

At all reasonable hours, our Adonis might be seen 
at the office window, his handsome head reposing upon 
the back of his study chair, his slippered feet resting 
upon the green baize of the office table, and his grace- 
ful neglige revealing the daintiest of waistcoats and 
the most immaculate of linen ! 

Dog-eared Blackstone was forgotten upon the floor, 
and Story, face downward, reposed upon .the window 
sill, over which the fragrant smoke from the meerscham 
(" colored ") curled gently up into the outer air. In the 
smile of our Adonis there was magic and contagion in his 
clear, ringing laugh ! Rich or poor, young or old, were 



102 THE EBONY IDOL. 

all alike to him. His smile, his purse, his cap, and his 
arm, were equally at their service. He was the very best 
example ever met with of a really " first-rate fellow." 

The homely, honest phase of Minden life, was novel 
and charming to him. He listened good-naturedly to 
the garrulity of age, gave a helping hand cheerfully to 
the over-burdened farmer, praised the home-brewed 
beers of the matrons, and accepted their little im- 
promptu lunches with the grace of a Pelham. In fine 
he was the idol of ma'mas, and the adoration of every 
young lady throughout the township ! 

Especially was he the pet and proteg£ of our 
heroine, Miss Dickey. If he enjoyed and sometimes 
encouraged her absurdities, it was rather from intense 
mirthfulness, than a desire to render her ridiculous in the 
eyes of others. His versatile and pliable talents made 
him the safefy valve of emergencies, and it was therefore 
to him that she resorted on the present occasion, for 
upon her as presiding officer of the Society devolved the 
responsibility of the fugitive's safe conduct, and he was 
her friend. His being himself from the very den of all 
iniquity, a slave State, did not seem to her as dust in the 
balance, and, as she had anticipated, he consented to act. 
This was not all, but we will let the lady speak for herself. 

" You see, Mr. Stanton," she said, " we are all so 
absorbed in our dear brother, who is fleeing to us for 
succor and safety ! We, that is, the Society, wish to 
open our arms (figuratively, of course), and clasp him 



THE EBONY IDOL. 103 

to our bosoms ! "Wishing, as we do, to embody our 
principles of freedom and equality, so that all the world 
will understand the position we take, we have thought 
it would be advisable to take some decisive measures 
upon this occasion, and Ave thought, as we were pass- 
ing, we would step in and consult you." 

Frank bowed with his hand upon his heart. 

" "We thought," continued Miss Dickey, " we would 
get up some slight demonstration, but as we are not 
familiar with such things, we shall have to rely upon 
your kindness in assisting us to arrange it." 

" Am I to understand, that you wish to get up this 
demonstration, as you call it, for the express purpose of 
receiving this negro ? " asked Stanton, a little doubtfully. 

" Exactly, that is it, we wish to receive our forlorn 
brother ! " 

Never did merriment peal out in richer laughter, 
than broke from the lips of our Adonis, as he fell 
back convulsively upon the lounge ; "I beg your 
pardon," he cried between his explosions, " a thousand, 
thousand pardons," and the young man wiped his eyes 
and swept back the hair from his flushed face, only to 
renew his cachinnations. " My dear Miss Dickey," he 
cried at last, when he was enabled to control himself, 
" the thing is most preposterous ! for heaven's sake, do 
not encourage the Society to add this capstone to their 
1 monyment ' for their enemies to laugh at ! " 

Miss Dickey's plumes were rumpled. "You are 



104 THE EBONY IDOL. 

very severe," she said, " Mr. Stanton, but where is the 
absurdity of demonstrating our gratification over a 
rescued brother ? It is customary to ' receive ' white 
gentlemen when they have returned from expeditions 
in which nothing was accomplished by them particularly 
praiseworthy ! I do not suppose receptions are de- 
signed to indicate the importance of the individual 
received, but rather the state of feeling existing among 
those to whom he is returned ; and in this aspect I 
shall receive him ! " 

" Ha ! it is your proposition, then ? " and Frank cast 
a sidelong, roguish glance at his visitor. 

" Of course, it is," she said with great dignity, and a 
flush of indignation. 

" Ah, excuse me, Miss Dickey ; that is quite a 
different view of the case ! We excuse in individuals, 
what would be folly in the masses, smd who but knows 
that what your fair hands find to do, you do with your 
might ! I place myself at your disposal — I will aid, 
abet, and defend you to the last drop of my blood ! " and 
Frank threw himself into an attitude of such chivalric 
devotion, that Miss Dickey involuntarily pronounced 
him " charming." 

" But seriously," she asked " where is the impro- 
priety of this reception?" 

Now our Adonis understood his antagonist too well, 
not to know that he might as well attempt to annihilate 
the rocks of Gibraltar with a tack hammer, as convince 



THE EBONY IDOL. 105 

any lady, and this lady in particular, that she was in an 
error, so he most graciously succumbed ! " There was 
no impropriety." 

Miss Dickey was enraptured. Pic-nics, and Will- 
o'-the-Wisp rambles were her especial favorites. To 
tug little willow baskets full of bread and butter, up 
steep, rocky hills, to sit down with a red face, tangled 
hair, and rent dress upon a little mound, especially 
devoted to ants' nests, to quaff lukewarm lemonade or 
brook water from a single tin cup, was the enigmatical 
charade, for what Miss Dickey called " Delight." 

Miss Dickey, therefore, would have a pic-nic. Mr. 
Cary should open the solemn exercises by prayer, after 
which should follow singing by the choir, and a poetical 
address of her own composition, delivered by herself, 
after which our Adonis should present the Received to 
be crowned with a wreath of white and black roses, to 
intimate the good time coming, and the future amalga- 
mation of the races ! To all of which Frank Stanton 
should be obliging enough to respond, in case the Re- 
ceived was too much affected to reply ! 

Frank listened with extreme gravity. " My dearest 
Miss Dickey, nothing can surpass the artistic elegance 
of your arrangement. Two objections occur to me, 
shall I offend by suggesting them ? " 

u Oh no." 

" Being myself a Southerner, I am acquainted with 
one fact of which you may not be aware ; that is, mos- 
5* 



106 THE EBONY IDOL. 

quitoes, and black-flies, and all kinds of woodland in- 
sects are as fond of black blood, as a number one abo- 
litionist ! If you should take tbat fellow into pine 
woods, they would scent him a mile off, and every 
identical mosquito and venomous insect would rush to 
the scene of action, and get up a reception among 
themselves, a thousand times more affecting than yours. 
Now, my dear madam, imagine that poor fellow being 
compelled to listen to poetry under such delicate cir- 
cumstances even from such lips as yours ! To use your 
own language, ' he would bleed at every pore ! ' " 

Miss Dickey glanced suspiciously at Frank's immov- 
able countenance. 

" Secondly, it is very difficult for ladies to speak in 
the open air, so as to be audible to the crowd. For this 
reason, I would suggest, that the reception take place 
at Glynn's hotel, where the ceremony could be enacted 
upon the piazza, and the audience would have the ad- 
vantage of standing below you. Beside, we could 
have supper, and toasts, a good social time, and a hop 
in the evening." Miss Dickey, who had fancied her- 
self arrayed as a sylvan nymph, hovering above the 
enraptured black-knight, dazzling his eyes with her 
beauty, as she encircled his brow with roses and his 
heart with love, could not resign her pretty imaginings, 
without some pangs of regret. Yet her poetical address 
could not be perilled, and she accepted Mr. Stanton's 
amendment. 



THE EBONY IDOL. 107 

Every thing was arranged entirely to Miss Dickey's 
satisfaction. Stanton having solemnly pledged himself 
to keep the fugitive in the background until the auspi- 
cious moment arrived for presentation, Miss Dickey 
departed, and immediately bestirred herself to engage 
the people to cooperate in her benevolent enterprise. 

As might be expected, landlord Glynn was zealous 
for the reception. He avowed himself ready to cater 
for black and white, to spare no " pains or expense," to 
entertain man and beast, and to extend invitations 
abroad by every facility in his power. 

Mr. Cary was too sensible to tolerate such an absur- 
dity. He reasoned and refused ; and it was only when 
he found the reception persisted in, that he gave his 
unwilling consent to unite with them. 

Squire Bryan considered it "rich." Mr. Smith 
rubbed his hands with great glee, and shouted, " Give 
me niggers, or give me death ! " Colonel Johnson and 
his " inestimable lady " consented to be present, because 
the reception was such an " uncommon occasion," while 
Mr. and Mrs. Hobbs bustled about, entering into the 
business minutiae with great gravity and zeal. 

Upon the day when the Society met to complete 
its arrangements, Miss Dickey might be seen with her 
little cork-screw curls all atremble, fluttering from one 
member to another, like an autumnal butterfly among 
frost-bitten astors. 



OHAPTEE XII. 



This is he 

Who hath upon him still that natural stamp. — Titus Adkonicus. 



Now after Miss Dickey's departure, Mr. Frank 
Stanton ventured to indulge in some, reflections upon 
" dirty work/' the result of which was that Mr. Frank 
Stanton had a private interview with Mr. Hobbs, dur- 
ing which a bank note changed hands, and Mr. Hobbs 
pledged himself, his word, and his honor, with Mrs. 
Hobbs' entire approval, to bring up the Ebony treasure, 
into the goodly land of Minden, and Frank Stanton 
returned, at his ease, to rejoice over the transfer of his 
laurels, and make merry with his wise mentor ! 

Late in the afternoon, as Mr. Hobbs was perfecting 
his arrangements for an early start in the morning, he 
found himself tete-a-tete with Squire Bryan. 

" How is it, friend Hobbs," asked the latter, mis- 
chievously, " that you have been enticed into this expe- 
dition ? Have you taken into consideration the dangers 
you may encounter ? " 

" Dangers ! " echoed Hobbs, " can't a man travel 



THE EBONY IDOL. 109 

fifty miles over good New England roads, about his 
own business, without getting his life insured ? " 

" But suppose this negro is pursued by his master, 
backed up by constables with bowie knifes and revolvers, 
and a troop of blood-hounds," asked the Squire with a 
shrug, " and you answerable to the law, for aiding in' 
the abduction of a slave ! eh ? " 

The scales fell from the eyes of our Philanthropist. 

" Is that why Stanton wants me to go instead of 
himself?" asked Hobbs suspiciously. 

" Possibly ! " 

Hobbs was silent and thoughtful. 

" Let me bid you farewell," said the Squire, extend- 
ing his hand with a face expressive of the most dolorous 
commiseration. " If," he added, " evil should befall 
you, you may rely upon my remembrance of your 
widow ! " 

During that tedious night, as Hobbs lay upon his 
bed, reflecting upon his perilous journey, he tossed, and 
tumbled, and lashed his imagination with all sorts of 
indefinite dangers. "What flocks of phantom sheep he 
drove over imaginary stone walls ! With what weari- 
ness of spirit he counted through hundreds and thou- 
sands and millions and billions ! How frantically he 
rolled his eyes from right to left and left to right ! 

Occasionally he dozed, wakefully, and groaned 
aloud as he saw in the cold moonlight the bleached 
skeletons of runaway slaves, gnashing their teeth at him 



110 THE EBONY IDOl,. 

in ghastly despair ; or, pursued by panting blood- 
hounds, he struggled to fly, only to fall at their very 
feet, and be scorched by their hot breath. Finally his 
eyes closed, and, from pure exhaustion, our friend slept 
— aye, and dreamed ! The way was long and dark, and, 
full of obstacles, the slave was beside him, not man, or 
ghost, but a being so awfully mysterious, that his very 
blood curdled, as they drove on in the dead silence ! 
Ha ! the negro springs upon him — grasps him ! throttles 
him ! Mercy ! mercy ! 

" Now, yeou Hobbs ! what on arth are you a shak- 
ing me, after that are fashion, for ? " shrieked his ami- 
able spouse. " Do get out ! " 

Mr. Hobbs returned to his tumblings and tossings, 
and, now more anxious to flee sleep than to woo it, 
resigned himself to await the dawn. 

What ages are concentrated in one wakeful hour ! 
"What trifles loom up, bearing down upon us with the 
blackest of piratical flags, refusing all compromise with 
conscience, and stifling the very atmosphere with hor- 
rible phantasies! A hundred times had Hobbs ar- 
ranged his last will and testament ! a hundred times did 
his disconsolate widow, trailing in black bombazine 
glide around his unsodden grave ! Like imperial 
Charles he even rehearsed, in imagination, his own 
burial, and chanted the bass to his own requiem ! 

Eaintly the gray dawn peeped in at the unshaded 
window, but so coyly she seemed to glide away again 



THE EBONY IDOL. Ill 

as the good man rubbed his sunken eyes and gazed at 
her with his wan, wistful face. Gradually she grew 
confident, and smiled so cheerfully upon the homely 
furniture and uncarpeted floor, that the nervous victim 
half smiled at his own apprehension ! How impa- 
tiently he listened to the heavy breathing of his sleep- 
ing partner, who, heartless sinner, snoozed away, utterly 
indifferent to their approaching separations ! Mrs. 
Hobbs, all unconscious of the mental solicitude of her 
dearly beloved, slept on with that depth and abandon, 
so natural to jDure animal health, her unadorned night 
cap forming a most unpoetical setting to the round, 
florid, and altogether ugly face, that pointed its pug 
nose to the ceiling, and blew its own trumpet in a man- 
ner perfectly astounding to even Hobbs. Mr. Hobbs 
listened to this tuneful nightingale, with great conjugal 
forbearance, until an unusually prolonged and sonorous 
inspiration aroused even the sleeper herself. 

"Hobbs," she muttered indistinctly through her 
dry throat, " how you do snore ! " 

" Snore ! " cried the accused, with a nervous vio- 
lence, only justifiable by his nightmares ! " I'll tell you 
what it is, Miss Hobbs, you have kept me awake all 
night ! 'Tis a shocking bad habit of yours, and if I had 
know'd you snored, I never would have married you ! " 

" Married me, indeed ! " retorted the lady, her eyes 
flying wide open with a snap, not unlike the capsule of 
the garden balsam when too rudely pressed ! " Didn't 



112 THE EBONY IDOL. 

I marry you to save your life, because you said you'd 
drink bed-bug pison if I didn't ? It's no wonder that 
I snore, a poor woman, that's seen the trouble I have, 
since I was married ! " 

Hobbs, who had his own reasons for smoking the 
pipe of peace, conceded the point, and proceeded, like 
a dutiful husband to consult her in regard to the perils 
that surrounded him. lie repeated the ominous words 
of Squire Bryan, and suggested his own doubts in regard 
to his personal safety. Finally he repeated his ominous 
dream, and intimated his determination to send for 
Squire Bryan and make his will ! 

" Make a fiddle-stick ! " cried Mrs. Hobbs ; who, 
whatever her deficiencies might be, was not wanting in 
courage. " If I couldn't hoe my own row with one 
nigger, I'd have pluck enough to die game ! " 

Mr. Hobbs, who was expecting some pretty little 
outburst of connubial affection to follow this affecting 
allusion to his death, was not a little irritated at this 
unreasonable resignation. 

" Miss Hobbs," he said solemnly, and with nasal 
accent, " you'll see the time when you'll think of 
this 'ere ! " 

Mrs. Hobbs snorted out her contempt. 

" You jest hand me over that ten dollar bill that 
Stanton gave you, and I'll bring the nigger, in less than 
no time, so you can save your bacon ! " 

This proposal was very fair, there was no denying 



THE EBONY IDOL. 113 

that ! and although the husband was not a little sur- 
prised at the ooolness of the proposition, still " his 
bacon " was not a consideration to be overlooked by him- 
self, whatever might be the estimation in which it was 
held by his better half ! Beside, the ten spot would re- 
main " in the family " if " the worst " should befall her, 
and, he remembered with pleasure that however effica- 
cious " bed-bug poison " had been deemed to assuage 
the grief of unrequited love while single, it had never 
been recommended as an antidote for a widower's grief ! 

" My dear," he said, " you are a woman of remark- 
able courage ! I always knew that ! " 

" And you are a man of remarkable little, and I 
allers knew that ! " blurted out the woman, who could 
never bear to be " my dear'd." 

Hobbs winced. 

" I was going this morning," he said hesitatingly, 
" you couldn't — " 

" Yes, I could ! " cried Mrs. Hobbs, " but you 
jest mind this, I shan't stir one peg, till that bill is 
mine." 

" Half," suggested Hobbs. 

" No you don't ! " cried the wife, " I can't expose 
my life you know, for five dollars ! The whole or 
none, so there's the end on't ! " 

Mr. Hobbs sighed. Money was sweet, but life was 
sweeter ; the world was full of embryo Mrs. Hobbs, 
and crape bands were cheap. Mr. Hobbs drew his coat 



114 THE EBONY IDOL. 

slowly to the bedside, extracted the bill from a soiled 
leather wallet, and passed it reluctantly to his wife. 

" Snooky ! " ejaculated Mrs. Hobbs, as the money 
touched her palm. " It's a bargain ! " and in just sixty 
minutes, Mrs. Hobbs was seated in the centre of the 
yellow farm waggon, a rein in each hand, a whip and 
basket of lunch by her side, and a bag of oats in the 
rear. The horse, the waggon, and the notable dame 
simultaneously turned their backs upon Minden, and 
Mr. Hobbs was left a widower in persj)ective. 

As Mrs. Hobbs rolled over the road, vigorously 
plying the horsewhip, and by sundry jerkin gs of the 
reins and chirrupings, intimating her impatience of 
delay, it is not to be inferred that she lavished senti- 
ment upon the natural beauties of the scenery. The 
rumbling vehicle glided by charming rivulets, gurg- 
ling and singing between banks verdant with rich 
mosses and tangled vines, while all down among moss- 
covered rocks, tufts of blue and white violets modestly 
concealed their beauty beneath their shields of green. 
The rich, carmine, cardinal flower, rose imperious from 
the rank ferns, and clusters of wild blue lupine, and 
nodding honeysuckles vainly filled the air with un- 
coveted perfume. The plaintive flute bird, whistled 
its dreamy notes in the solitary forests of dark pine, 
and the bob-o'-link, and golden robins, the wild canary, 
and the blue jay darted around her, their brilliant 
plumage flashing in the golden sunshine, until even the 



THE EBONY IDOL. 115 

jaded horse bent his ears to listen, and looked wistfully 
up, into the deep shaded hill-sides. 

But Mrs. Hobbs, alone, earnest for the accomplish- 
ment of her individual mission, chirruped, and jerked, 
and plashed, unmindful of the scorching sun, beguiling 
her moments of repose by humming snatches of old 
love songs and murderous legends, or giving her un- 
musical voice free execution in this her favorite ballad. 

" Down Fly Market lived a maid, 
Making sassage was her trade ! 
Twas there I saw that cruel she, 
A making sassengers for he." 
Tu-ral-u-ral-u-ral-addy I 
Tural ural la ! 

As noon approached, our independent traveller seek- 
ing a shady nook where water and grass invited repose, 
released the horse from the waggon, and leaving the 
animal to crop the green herbage, seated herself by the 
running water, uncovered her basket of cold viands, 
and with great gravity proceeded to dine. The repast 
completed, Mrs. Hobbs shook the crumbs from her 
dress, twisted some green leaves into an emerald goblet, 
and drank, without mentioning it, to her own success. 
Then leading her brute companion to the water, and 
patting his neck to signify their mutual satisfaction, 
she slipped the thills into the harness, and resumed her 
journey. 

Arriving the day following at the place designated 
by Mr. Cary, Mrs. Hobbs, for the first time in her life, 



116 THE EBONY IDOL. 

had the pleasure of beholding a negro face to face. She 
looked at him much as a child would examine an ele- 
phant, or any other wild animal, but the investigation 
was evidently less satisfactory, and when the waggon 
was ready for her to return, it was with a slight tone 
of disgust that she ordered him to " get in." The man 
sprang nimbly in behind. 

" "What on arth are you in there for ? " she asked 
curtly, as she looked for his whereabouts. " Get out." 

She was obeyed. 
" There," said the woman, planting herself firmly 
upon the left side of the waggon, " set down there, and 
drive." 

" Beg pardon, missus, dis nigger can't dribe." 

" Can't drive," cried the dame, opening her round 
eyes in astonishment, " what on arth is the reason you 
can't drive ? " 

" Beg pardon, missus, dis nigger nebber learned 
how ! " 

To Mrs. Hobbs, the very idea of being learn'd to 
drive, was intensely absurd ; she had always known 
how. 

u Never learned how to drive," she repeated slowly. 
" Did I ever ? "Well, if that don't beat all natur ! " and 
she regarded him as if he had been a mermaid, or 
woolly horse. " Well then," she said with some con- 
tempt, " you jest set over there," and pushing by him, 



THE EBONY IDOL. 117 

she took the reins, and the party were homeward 
bound. 

" What's your name ? " she asked after a short 
silence. 

" Csesar, missus." 

" Caesar what % " 

" Csesar, missus," he repeated with a grin. 

" "Well, what's your other name ? " 

" Beg pardon, missus, dis nigger han't got no tudder 
name." 

" Hain't got no other name, why, who in the world 
was your father ? " 

" Beg pardon, missus, dis nigger nebber had no 
fadder." 

" Snooky ! " and Mrs. Hobbs was speechless from 
sheer wonder ! 

Gradually Mrs. Hobbs became familiar with the 
dark complexion and national lineaments of her com- 
panion, and exercised her curiosity and loquaciousness 
upon her new acquaintance without stint or measure. 
Csesar, who was not slow in perceiving her readiness to 
give full credence to his most absurd relations, and was 
not reluctant to have himself considered a hero, poured 
into her willing ear a most lavish account of his suffer- 
ings. His deprivations and personal corpulency might 
have seemed incongruous to a physiological listener, 
but Mrs. Hobbs was no skeptic, and was prepared to 
believe in any evil that traced its origin to slavery ! 



118 THE EBONY IDOL. 

The nine o'clock bell was pealing out its warning for 
all dames to put their houses in order for the night, and 
for peace-loving citizens to seek their own homes, when 
our weary travellers rolled up to the side door of Mr. 
Hobbs' farm house, and were greeted with great cor- 
diality by little Mary, upon whom the housekeeping 
duties had devolved during the absence of her foster- 
mother. 

She had been " so anxious," she said, in the most 
musical of voices, and her silvery laugh rippled out 
upon the quiet night air, as she ran to notify her father 
of the arrival. He, good man, w T as smoking his clay 
pipe in the sitting-room window, with his heavy boots 
upon the window sill, utterly oblivious to all terrestrial 
objects ! 

"With great composure, and evidently with some re- 
luctance, he knocked the ashes from his short-stemmed 
pipe, and proceeded to welcome his wife with bluff good 
nature, and off-hand raillery. 

Mrs. Hobbs was invulnerable, and as she came to 
the ground, ordered her liege lord to " drive that 
fellow straight to the young Squire's office." 

Our Adonis was enjoying the evening by the open 
window, his handsome head reposing upon his clasped 
hands, nursing his feeble ambition by the rays of the 
bloody Mars, or seeking inspiration from the imperious 
Venus. 

As Frank gazed in silent rapture, Byron's beautiful 



THE EBONY IDOL. 119 

Invocation to Night rose to his lips, and he was repeat- 
ing slowly and half dreamingly — 

" Ye stars, which are the poetry of heaven ! 
If in our aspirations to be great 
We do o'erleap our mortal state, 
And claim communion with you, 'tis to be forgiven." 

" Squire," cried a voice at the door, " I've brought 
you that 'ere nigger ! " 

" Nigger be damned ! " cried Frank, testily, falling 
aplomb from his celestial explorations. " Hobbs, take 
the fellow over to Glynn's, and tell him to give him 
supper, bed, and breakfast, at my expense, and keep him 
under lock and key until I see him ! " 

" All right," cried Hobbs, retreating. 

" Confound the nigger," cried Stanton, springing up, 
and dashing down the window angrily, he turned the 
key in the office-door, and strode nervously out into the 
dewy night air. 



CHAPTEE XIII. 

The wealthy curled darlings of our nation. — Othello. 

The day destined to be known in the annals of Min- 
den as the day of " the reception," came in pleasantly. 
The sun laughed and danced, and quivered with delight, 
as it peeped over the green hill-tops. The birds, true 
to their early mass, poured forth such rich gushes of 
melody, that little Mary, who was already astir, thought 
they must know that another spirit had become free 
like their own. The air was moist and balmy, and all 
day long the soft breezes swept over the village green, 
and nature seemed vying with man to welcome a soul 
to freedom. 

Young Stanton, having completed his very perfect 
toilet, wended his way to the hotel to enact his own 
part in the day's drama. As he entered the room in 
which Caesar had been deposited to await his arrival, 
the two confronted each other with countenances which, 
however differently they might express astonishment, 



THE EBONY IDOL. 121 

were equally suggestive of a most unexpected recog- 
nition ! 

" "What brought you here, sir ? " asked Stanton, 
sternly, as the truth dawned upon him, and he 
beheld before him a negro from his own father's plan- 
tation. 

" Lor' Gor 'Mighty ! " cried Caesar, throwing him- 
self upon his knees before Stanton ; " who'd ebber a 
thought of findin' Mass' Frank, way up here 'mong 
dese-'ere mountings ? Don't tink, for one blessed minit, 
dat dis nigger go for run away from he blessed massa ! 
I'se jes' on a visit, fur sartin, and nebber should thought 
comin' on visit, neider, if it had'nt bin fur dem cussed 
abolitioners ! Hope to drop down dead dis blessed 
minit if dat aint jes' de whole truf ! " 

" Hold your tongue, sir, and get up ! " Frank threw 
himself into a chair in great perplexity. " Fine doings, 
this," he muttered, " conniving at the escape of father's 
negro, and exhibiting him before all Minden as a speci- 
men of abused humanity ! You always were a rascal, 
Csesar, and you always will be. Much good may you 
do the good Samaritans that have seduced you ! " 

" Dat's jes' de blessed truf, Massa Frank, and no 
mistakin' dat 'ar ! Nebber was sich rascal as dis 'ere 
chile was from his berry fus' bref ! So I say to my 'sef, 
Csesar, what for you stay on my 'spectable massa's 
plantation, and keep kickin' up debbil ob a muss, an' 
keepin' civil niggers in a 'roar ! an' so, Massa Frank, 
6 



122 THE EBONY IDOL. 

dis nigger jes' took an' visit he frens in de norf ! An' 
dat is de whole truf — hope to drop down dead dis bless- 
ed minit, if I does'n speak de truf, like a colored pussun 
of veracity ! " And here* Caesar grinned out his own 
admiration of his ingenious defence ! 

Frank, whose brow had gathered blackness as Caesar 
proceeded, sprang to his feet, and with a tone of de- 
cision, said, 

" Caesar, there is but one course to be pursued in 
this silly affair ; you must return directly to my father. 
If you go quietly, so much the better ; my own private 
opinion is, that your loss is his gain ; but I have my 
duty to perform as his son, and you have yours as a 
servant. You must go back ! " 

" Oh, Lor' Gor 'Mighty," cried Caesar, throwing 
himself in a supplicating attitude at Frank's feet, " have 
massy — have massy ! I'se a poor black debbil, and I'se 
no cons' quence to Mass' Stanton, no how ! I'se nothin' 
but a cuss to all de niggers, and I nebber see any 'tickler 
need of dis chile bein' made, enny way ; but seein' I 
is made (and sartin dis chile nebber gin his consent, if 
he had been asked 'fore he was made), why can't he be 
free chile, Massa Frank ? free for his 'sef ? " 

" Why, Caesar, what makes you wish to be free ? " 

The uncultivated black placed his hand upon his 
heart, and said with quivering face, 

" Someting here, Massa Frank. 'Tis great 'ting to 
be free ! " 



THE EBONY IDOL. 123 

Frank sprang to his feet and paced the floor with a 
quick, nervous tread. 'Yes — it was a great thing to be 
free ; and the revolutionary blood tingled through Stan- 
ton's veins ! 

" Caesar/' he asked, confronting the poor fellow with 
emotion, answer me truly, " was it simply this longing 
to be free that induced you to leave my father ? " 

" I hope to drop down dead dis blessed minit, if dat 
is'n jes' de whole truf," said Caesar, solemnly. 

" Then God forbid that my hand should blast the 
sweet promise of that heaven-implanted instinct ! " 
cried Stanton. 

A painful silence ensued.- Frank slowly pacing the 
room, endeavoring to reconcile his duty with his per- 
sonal desires ; Caesar, still kneeling, gazed after him 
with mingled stupor and despair. His fate was trem- 
bling upon his young master's lips ! 

" To whom have you revealed your master's name ? " 
asked Stanton. 

" Hope to drop down dead dis blessed minit if dis 
chile 'vealed his massa's name to ary livin' pussun 
whatsomever ! " 

" Has no one ever asked you to whom you be- 
longed ? " 

" Don't tink dere hab, Massa Frank." 

" Take time to reflect, and answer me positively." 

Caesar scratched his woolly pate thoughtfully. 

" Dis chile knows for sartin," said Caesar, slowly ; 



124 THE EBONY IDOL, 

" he nebber Vealed his 'sef, or his blessed massa's sef, to 
ary livin' pussun ! " 

Stanton regarded him a moment with a searching 
glance, which seeming satisfactory, and said, 

" Very well, Caesar ; now listen to me, and let me 
tell you exactly what freedom will be to yon. Do not 
think, because you have been so warmly welcomed by 
your Northern friends, that you will not need to labor. 
It is true, you will be a free man, and eat free bread, 
but let me tell you even Yankee bread has to be paid 
for. There is hardly one man in a hundred of all these 
who have encouraged your desertion of my father, who 
would put his hand into his pocket and give you a dol- 
lar, if it was to save you from the gutter ! While the 
excitement continues, they will take you to their homes 
for a few days, and then cast you adrift, to sink or 
swim. You will find few of your own color with whom 
to associate, and you will be shunned by the Northern- 
ers, to whom your color and habits are not familiar. 
If you wish to find friends, they can only be secured 
by honesty and industry, for you will find the North 
have even a stronger affection for money than negroes ! 
I tell you the truth ; now give me your final decision 
— will you return or remain ? " 

Caesar was suspicious and sullen. 

" Perhaps it is natural you should distrust me," 
Frank said, perceiving his hesitation ; " the truth is not 
.always agreeable, but it is always safe ; I have no wish 



THE EBONY IDOL. 125 

or motive in deceiving you ! "Will you return or be 
free?" 

A sudden gleam broke over the sable face ! 

" Free, Marse Frank." And as if there was magic 
in the little monosyllable, he murmured over and over 
again, " free — free." 

" Free, then, let it be," exclaimed Stanton, with de- 
cision ; " but mark me, it is only upon this one condi- 
tion, you shall never confess or betray to living man 
that you have ever known me or my father. If by any 
accident you should do so, I shall at once inform my 
father where you may be found." 

Caesar could not but be conscious of the magnani- 
mity of his young master's decision. He dropped upon 
his knees, and with genuine tears and rude pathos 
poured forth in broken eloquence the gratitude of his 
heart. 

"Now tears are like the rain, which soothes the thunder; 
They keep the heart from splitting quite asunder! " 

and Csesar having relieved the pressure of gratitude to 
the heart, by this flow of emotion, wiped his swarthy 
face upon his coat sleeve, and grew radiant with com- 
placency. 

" And now, Caesar, when this exhibition is over, 
remember this — you are never to accost me, or look 
at me, or notice me any more than you would 
an entire stranger ; if you do it will lead to your de- 



126 THE EBONY IDOL. 

tection. If you get into trouble, do not seek me, and 
if you break your promises to me, remember — " and 
Frank twirled his cane significantly. " Remain here 
until you are sent for ; " and Stanton, turning the key 
upon the illustrious guest, left Caesar to his own reflec- 
tion, and more especially to his own admiration. 

No sooner were Frank's retreating footsteps heard 
upon the stairs, than Caesar, with a slight toss of his 
ambrosial curls, proceeded to take a long and most 
gratifying survey of himself in a little mahogany-framed 
looking-glass that adorned his prison walls. He was, 
of course, " got up " for the occasion, and no peacock 
was ever vainer of his bright-eyed plumage, or strutted < 
with half the vanity with which Caesar now spread 
himself, as advancing, retreating, and revolving before 
the mirror, he regarded his apparel and grinned his de- 
light. Directly he commenced a kind of pantomime with 
his own reflection ; first he adopted the airs of the fop, 
and substituting the glass stopple of the cologne stand for 
an eye-glass, he ogled his blacker half with a persistency 
that would have cast many a shameless white " swell " 
into the shade. 

He next assumed the character of the man of the 
world, and with great suavity shook hands with him- 
self, offered himself a chair, seated himself, extended 
to himself the civility of the snuff-box, and flourished 
his white cambric with evident admiration of his own 
elegance. 



THE EBONY IDOL. 127 

From the gentleman lie glided into the lover ; with 
his hand upon his heart, poor Caesar sighed and wheezed 
like a dying porpoise ! The flames of Cupid seemed 
about to envelop his oleaginous person ; he pressed his 
yellow kids to his thick lips, and languished until he 
seemed in actual danger of consuming from spontane- 
ous combustion. 

Below stairs, meanwhile, mine host of the inn, 
flushed with importance, is bustling about from room 
to room, giving his orders with the shrill tone and ner- 
vous haste of one unaccustomed to great occasions. 
"With every fresh arrival the hostler is sure to be miss- 
ing, and has to be hunted up by the excited landlord, 
who invariably finds him with both hands plunged in 
his breeches pockets, and his jockey cap poised upon 
one ear, peering at the preparations through the open 
door. 

The gentleman at the " bar " was really the only 
man of steady habits. In the good old times of yore, 
liquors were conspicuously displayed above the bar; 
but even in Minden, decanters had lost their respecta- 
bility, and were arranged for evasion. Still the bar- 
tender is in great demand upon show-days, and pours 
his " cooling drinks " with the am of a man who ap- 
preciates his own importance ! 

Without, the old, worn, half-painted hotel was doing 
its very best to look young and cheerful ; evergreens 
were flaunting and trailing from pillar and post, gaudy 



128 THE EBONY IDOL. 

bouquets arranged in all kinds of old china, and dilapi- 
dated pitchers coquettishly displayed their beauties 
from the open windows ; and little flags, with blackened 
stripes and stars, streamed out from every available cor- 
ner. But the portico was the gayest of all, and was 
written all over with Miss Dickey's initials ! In the 
centre was erected a small rustic throne, over-arched 
with branches of oak and white pines, interspersed with 
wreaths and bouquets, and -appropriate mottoes. Wood 
cuts of slaves writhing beneath the lash, or suing for 
mercy, were suspended in conspicuous places, and noth- 
ing was omitted which could give expression or pi- 
quancy to the occasion. 

The people stood around and below, gazing, criticiz- 
ing, and prophesying, as the crowd are wont to do, while 
beneath the pretty shade trees of the village green, the 
horses of economical visitors gnawed the juicy bark 
from their unprotected stems, or leisurely browsed the 
rich herbage at their feet. 

As the hour of ceremony approaches, the crowd 
grows more dense, and Yankee speculations are opened 
in horse sheds, with jack-knives and silver watches ; 
molasses candy, pop corn and lozenges circulate, and 
snap crackers are beginning to be heard at a distance. 
Little boys forming all sorts of processions, paraded up 
and down the street, singing negro melodies, and shout- 
ing forth defiant and abusive phrases, indicative of each 
other's party ; one particularly was the observed of all 



THE EBONY IDOL. 129 

observers, and we are sorry to say was planned and 
carried into execution by no other than Miss Dickey's 
graceless nephew himself ! Every juvenile desperado 
in Minden was pressed into service ; with blackened 
faces they trudged through the streets, bearing a ban- 
ner with the rebellious motto, " Niggers is riz ! " 



CHAPTER XIV. 

" Consider their case in the light it deserves, 
And pity the state of their stomachs and nerves." 

An Epistle tkom Bath. 

However dreary the word " last " may seem when 
coupled with a dollar, a friend, or a life, it is a very 
agreeable monosyllable when it attaches itself to the 
hour of expectation. " One o'clock at last," cried the 
weary and heated expectants ; and a slight bustle upon 
the balcony was the precursor to the swaying of the 
crowd below. Short and small people elongated them- 
selves by standing upon tiptoe, and stretching their necks 
to almost fabulous extensions. Tall and bulky individ- 
uals, who could have seen from any position, elbowed 
their way to the most desirable locations, where with 
their hats under their arms they enlarged their general 
outlines, greatly to the annoyance of the shorts, who kept 
up a series of dodgings for bird's-eye views. 

Small children were knocked over, and stepped upon 
like so many puppies, and in imitation of that quadru- 
ped gave audible intimation of their resentment, while 



THE EBONY IDOL. 131 

mammas muttered out their indignation, without regard 
to musical cadence. Finally, Mr. Cary, the Keceivirig 
Committee, and Miss Dickey passed the open door, and 
took their positions upon the decorated piazza. A few 
leading members of the choir next appeared, whom the 
chorister arranged with the viol here, and the bass 
there ; and the stout, florid girl, with two spit curls upon 
each temple, was placed side by side with Mary Hobbs. 

And so the actors arrange, and are arranged, and 
when precision is gratified, Mr. Cary, with uplifted 
hands, says solemnly, " Let us invoke the blessing of 
God," and being a sincere hearted man, striving to do 
his duty as he sees it, pours forth an eloquent and ear- 
nest supplicatioii that slavery may cease from off the 
face of the earth. 

The singing of the " African's Lament," those old, 
familiar words, the reading of which has made many 
an embryo abolitionist, was next in order. Despite the 
low thunder of the bass and the squealing of the abomi- 
nable fiddle, or the loud, strong notes of the maid with 
the spit curls, a gushing, warbling, bird-like music steals 
above, beneath, and around, the universal harshness, 
which we at once identify as the notes of the fairy with 
the golden hair, little Mary Hobbs* 

When the music ceased, the people were quiet and 
decorous ; but no sooner did Caesar appear upon the 
platform, with glossy face and magnificent attire, than 
the crowd swayed again. Not one in twenty of that 



132 THE EBONY IDOL. 

assembly had ever before beheld a negro, and all ex- 
pected to behold in him an outcast of the forlornest as- 
pect, bearing every mark of cruelty and servility. 
Imagine then the disappointment, and our faithfulness 
as a chronicler of human nature compels us to add, the 
chagrin and regret of the beholders, to see not an object 
of pity and tears, but a stalwart, portly, gross African, 
with the smoothest and blackest of skins, clothed in 
blue broadcloth with gilt buttons, a buff vest, snowy 
linen with ruffles, and gloves the most spotless of Alex- 
ander's best — an outfit mischievously furnished, as the 
reader will remember, by Mr. Frank Stanton. The 
very air grew heavy with his perfumeries, and if any 
thing could have surpssaed the folly of his exterior, 
it most assuredly was found in the overwhelming im- 
portance of his swagger, and the truly negro, but ut- 
terly indescribable " fine frenzy " with which he rolled 
his eyes over the spectators, and looked his conscious- 
ness of being " a distinguished individual." For a mo- 
ment the silence was intense, and at that fatal instant, 
some youngster of the impish party, regardless of con- 
fections and free seats at second tables, shouted at the 
top of his lungs, " Oh, I'm the best looking nigger in 
the county — Oh ! " and the final " oh " was caught up 
and bandied about by the outsiders with such wonder- 
ful inflections and elongations, that the crowd began 
slightly to hiss, then to clap, to laugh and hurra, until 
the hubbub was complete ! 



THE EBONY IDOL. 133 

" Does your mother know you're out ? " cried a 
voice from the crowd ! " Go it, slippers," cried an- 
other, who had a glimpse of the white hosiery ! " What's 
the price of cologne ? " yells a third ! " Any more 
ruffles where them come from ? " asks a fourth ! " Don't 
soil your gloves, dear," and then prolonged cheers. 
Now Caesar had been instructed by Stanton to bow 
very low when the clapping was coupled with his name, 
and in his excitement, not comprehending the confusion, 
he faced about, and with his gloved hand upon his buff 
waistcoat, bowed so exceedingly low, that some one 
moving behind him came in contact with his person, 
and had well-nigh precipitated him into the upturned 
faces of his admirers ! 

Here Mr. Cary rose, and intimating by a wave of 
his hand his wish to be heard, entreated them to be si- 
lent, as a personal favor to himself. Order and quiet 
restored, the ceremonies were concluded entirely to the 
satisfaction of all interested parties. The gaunt figure 
of Miss Dickey within the rural arch looked exceed- 
ingly comfortless in her dress of white book muslin, 
than which nothing could be stiffer, unless indeed it was 
surpassed by the little corkscrew curls, that maiden la- 
dies for some unaccountable reason insist upon wearing, 
" in such a winterish way." 

The address, which we forbear giving for reasons of 
our own not related to its excellence, was in Miss 
Dickey's " own peculiar and beautiful style." 



134 THE EBONY IDOL. 

The reply was in Frank Stanton's best manner. To 
this day we have never been able to decide in our own 
minds whether it was the consciousness of the presence 
of sweet little Mary, or the rays that shot from the 
laughing eyes of Squire Bryan, that so electrified and 
inspired him ! 

The crowning of Caesar's brow with the typical 
wreath of black and white roses, was received with im- 
mense applause ; and when Caesar acknowledged this 
attention by the presentation of an immense bouquet, 
and a salute of her fair hand, more cordial than grace- 
ful, the village rung with acclamations ! 

But dinner was waiting in the dining hall, and the 
porcine suckling, who had laid down his life for Caesar, 
was reposing upon " all fours " in the centre of the ta- 
ble, awaiting an attack, with the stoicism that only 
roasted pork can assume. 

At either extremity of the table were placed the 
very familiar plaster-of-Paris images,, known as the 
" Kneeling Samuel," which our original typifier, Miss 
Dickey, had painted black for the occasion ; the one 
bearing as a placard the Macedonian cry, " Come 
over and help us ! J ' the other, the memorable war- 
cry of Patrick Henry, " Give me liberty, or give me 
death ! " 

Little wreaths of white and black roses were thrown 
around their necks, to intimate the good time coming, 
while bouquets, vines, parsleys and mints, and dishes 



THE EBONY IDOL. 135 

garnished with hard-boiled eggs and sliced lemons gave 
a holiday appearance to the repast, which, blending 
with the savory odors of roast meats and plum-pud- 
dings, must have produced a very agreeable sensation 
among such of the party as were interested in tickets 
at fifty cents each ! 

Of all earthly blessings, almost the only one that 
does not " brighten as it takes its flight " is a public 
dinner ! 

The fearful wreck of every edible upon the table 
bore witness to the comfortable conviction, that neither 
excessive joy at Caesar's liberty, or grief for his brethren 
in bonds, had affected the appetites of our philanthro- 
pists ! Indeed, had the multitude been twice as glad 
at Caesar's arrival, they could not possibly have eaten 
twice as much ! But they had made themselves as com- 
fortable as they could at their own expense, and as Da- 
vid said, if that did not arouse the South to a sense of 
their sin, he did not know what would ! 

The crowd, weary with surfeiting and confusion, 
began to disperse. As Stanton slipped his fee into the 
willing palm of the landlord, he took occasion to say 
that he was no longer responsible for Caesar's bills, and 
that he would do well to exercise a timely regard to 
his own interests in that respect. A second hint was 
not required by the wary landlord, who, watching his 
opportunity, fastened his distinguished guest upon no 
less a personage than the Kev. Mr. Cary himself. 



CHAPTEE XV. 

14 There was a painful change."— Eye of St. Agnes. 

"We now come home to a little domestic matter. 

It was not to be expected that the addition to the 
family of a fat and lazy negro was very agreeable to 
the clergyman's wife. The quiet and economical man- 
ner in which, as that of a poor pastor, the family found 
it necessary to live, had been rendered more tolerable 
by the skilful management of Mrs. Cary, who perform- 
ed her own household labors. The cottage was small 
but comfortable, and the one " spare bed," which in the 
country is almost always a miracle of snowy linen and 
soft feathers, was the only one now in readiness for the 
sable guest. 

Mrs. Cary, with a perplexed brow, when Caesar was 
once fairly in the house, and it became necessary to 
provide for him, beckoned her husband to this little 
sanctum. 

" Only think, my dear, of putting Caesar in here," 
she cried, in a tone of vexation. 



THE EBONY IDOL. 137 

Mr. Cary glanced at the fresh linen and spotless 
coverlet, the clean straw matting and gossamer white 
window drapery ; and it must be confessed it did seem 
to him to be a kind of profanation. 

The two exchanged comical glances. 

" But what other arrangement can be made ? " asked 
the wife, anxiously. 

" You might put him into Lucy's room, and put 
Lucy in here," suggested the husband. 

" Bless me," cried Mrs. Cary, " the child never could 
be persuaded to sleep there again so long as she lived ; 
she is already so afraid of Caesar that she shuts her 
eyes to avoid seeing him." 

"Well, my dear, fix it to suit yourself," cried 
the puzzled clergyman, and he returned to his study. 

Mrs. Cary bethought her of a vacant room in the 
rear of the building, in which she satisfactorily prepared 
lodgings for her guest ; and thither he was escorted to 
dream over his triumphs. The day following was de- 
voted to village explorations, and Caesar found himself 
a very acceptable addition to the group that daily con- 
gregated upon the piazza of the Glynn Hotel. He soon 
discovered also that he was expected to gratify their 
curiosity to the fullest extent, and that he was petted 
in proportion to the magnitude and marvellousness of 
the falsehoods he invented. So Caesar went on from 
one suffering to another, until it may be doubted where 
his experience would have ended, had not Frank Stan- 



138 THE EBONY IDOL. 

ton at some critical moments joined the concourse of lis- 
teners. 

And so day after day passed until tlie loungers com- 
menced to grow weary of the often repeated stories, 
and dropped away from the rehearsal. Then Caesar 
turned his attention to things indoors, and as a natural 
result mostly slept the mornings away in the sunny 
windows of Mrs. Cary's dining room, much to the an- 
noyance of that notable dame. 

" Caesar," she said one morning when he was en- 
sconcing himself in his favorite sunshine, " perhaps you 
would like to work a little in the garden. There are 
always weeds to be removed, and my husband finds 
very little time for such things." 

"Dat mighty small garding of your'n, missey," 
blurted Caesar, with undisguised contempt ; " no gemman 
would tink of weedin' such garding as dat-are ! Missey 
ought for to see my ole massa's garding ! Gor, dat 
was garding as is a garding ! " 

" It answers our purpose very well, at all events ; I 
work in it myself sometimes." 

" Gor, de Yankees all niggers^ Dis chile like for 
to see his ole missey working round in dat-are way. De 
Soufern ladies am ladies as is ladies ! " 

Mrs. Cary bit her lip in silence, and after a little 
yawning, Caesar gave himself up to his favorite siesta, 
with his suspicious-looking head and shoulders upon the 
fining table. 



THE EBONY IDOL. 139 

An hour or two after, Mrs. Cary's quick, firm tread 
was heard upon the study threshold. 

" Mr. Cary, I wish you would have the kindness to 
step down and get Caesar out of the dining-room. The 
odor is perfectly intolerable. He has been dozing upon 
the table these two hours, and it is my humble opinion 
his head never was familiar with the sweets of soli- 
tude!" 

The clergyman gave a little shrug of impatience. 

" My dear, you have interrupted a most valuable 
logical elucidation which I greatly fear me has vanished 
for good. Could not you have awakened him ? " 

" He is no visitor of mine," cried the good lady 
testily, " though I plead guilty to having been poking 
him for the last half hour with the broom-handle. If 
he is to remain here much longer, I shall certainly send 
him into the study ; for, as for having him around my 
cooking apartments, I will not ! " 

Mr. Cary whistled ; and after a little reflection, 
shuffled down stairs. It is to be confessed that as his 
eyes fell upon the uncouth, swarthy figure of the sleep- 
ing fugitive, a half-framed wish that he was back in the 
cotton-fields presented itself. 

" Csesar, wake up, sir, the room is wanted for 
dinner." 

The sleeper gave no sign. 

" Caesar," cried the clergyman, more energetically, 
going a little closer, and punching him with the blunt 



140 THE EBONY IDOL. 

end of his pen holder — " Wake up, sir, — do you 
hear?" 

A snort of resentment followed the pointed appeal, 
and after various elongations of his extremities, not 
mentioned by Chesterfield as indicative of good breed- 
ing, Caesar rubbed his eyes with his fists and con- 
descended to turn the white of them toward the ex- 
pectant Mr. Cary. 

" Tink a nigger might enjoy his'sef some way or 
nudder," grunted Caesar. 

" The room is required for dinner, sir," the clergy- 
man repeated sternly. " The dining-room is no place for 
sleeping. Could you not have gone to your chamber 
if you required rest ? " 

" Chamber ! " growled Caesar ; " Lor' Gor 'Mighty 
— dis chile aint use to sleepin in such cubbey-hole as 
dat-ar'e." 

" Am I to understand that you find fault with your 
lodging-room, sir ? " demanded the master of the house, 
testily. 

" Yah ! yah ! " laughed Caesar insultingly, " dis 
chile knows what am what. Haint lib all he life mong 
gemman as is gemman fur nurthin ! " # 

" Well, sir, let me tell you that your accommoda- 
tions are the best I can give you, and even better than 
I can continue to bestow, unless you are willing to cast 
off your sluggishness, and give us a helping hand. 
There is a cord of wood at the door, and if you prefer 



THE EBONY IDOL. 141 

to exercise, you can amuse yourself by sawing and 
splitting it." 

Caesar's eyes dilated. 

" Dis chile didn't come norf to be made a nigger of. 
Dis free land, I spose ! " 

" But you must understand, Caesar, that labor is 
honorable at the North. You can enjoy freedom, it is 
true, but not its blessings without industry. I labor 
myself." 

" Tink dat ! " snorted Caesar, rolling his eyes insult- 
ingly over the somewhat seedy exterior of the clergy- 
man. " Gemmans as is gemmans, 'pears like gemmans 
as is gemmans." 

The blood rushed hot and tingling to Mr. Cary's 
cheek, and for an instant his lips quivered with resent- 
ment. But suppressing his anger, the clergyman 
turned upon his heel and wended his way to the 
study. 

Mrs. Cary, to repress her resentment laid the dinner 
table in the kitchen. The domestic atmosphere was 
evidently becoming hazy. Caesar, in the meanwhile, 
amused himself by making faces at little Lucy, when- 
ever he could do so unseen, occasionally pulling her 
.upon his knees, and smothering her with kisses, which 
so terrified and disgusted the child, that she avoided 
him, as she would the plague of Egypt. "When she 
complained of these grievances, and Mrs. Cary kindly 
remonstrated with Caesar, thinking that it was his color 



142 



THE EBONY IDOL. 



and uncoutlmess that had offended her daughter, 
Caesar grew malicious, and hating the child, drove her 
half frantic with persecutions. She came to fear him, 
too, and durst not betray him, as she had at first done, 
so that unwittingly she grew peevish and nervous, cling- 
ing to her mother by day, and shrieking with terror 
when^left alone for the night. 

It chanced one day, that Mrs. Cary sat sewing 
between the mirror and Caesar, and looking up casually, 
detected the fellow in the very act of distorting his 




THE EBONY IDOL. 143 

face so hideously, that for the instant, her own terror 
petrified her. Glancing at Lucy, she beheld her rigid 
and pale, staring at him with a kind of stony fascina- 
tion, more fearful to encounter than the distortions of 
the negro. To clasp the child in her arms and bear 
her to the study, was the work of an instant, and then 
the good woman's wrath broke forth. 

" Mr. Cary, we may as well understand each other 
first as last. Either Caesar or Lucy must leave the 
house. I have borne with his insolence as long as 
respect to you or duty to my family will allow," and 
Mrs. Cary poured forth such a chapter of grievances as 
startled the clergyman with fears for her sanity. 

Lucy still limp and pallid bore full testimony to all 
she suffered, and now that she felt certain of safety, 
told of a thousand annoyances of which her parents 
never dreamed. 

Mr. Cary listened in silent indignation. 

" You may bring Caesar here," he said, at last, in a 
low voice ; and the man was brought. • 

But no sooner did Caesar catch a glimpse of the 
group within, than comprehending his dilemma, he 
clasped his hands upon his sides, and howling with 
pretended anguish, threw himself helplessly into Mrs. 
Cary's sewing chair. Now this sewing chair had been 
the gift of a dear deceased friend, and was, beside, the 
only bit of elegance, which adorned the parsonage ; a 
small black walnut in gothic style, and quite too deli- 



144: THE EBONY IDOL. 

cate for " coarser souls." When, therefore, the dis- 
traught monster transferred his theatricals to that seat 
of empire, he reckoned without his host, for no sooner 
did he come in contact with the dainty damask, than the 
treacherous legs gave way, and Csesar lay " around 
loose." 

The pangs of the poor fellow's abdomen and their 
accompanying contortions, which he had designed to 
have identified with those that had so frightened the 
child, were instantly allayed by the ruin he had 
wrought, and he sprang to his feet protesting " dat 
dam chair broke he own dam sef." Mrs. Cary darted 
a glance at her good man, which seemed to implicate 
him as the author of all her evils, and banging the 
door behind her, left the two lords alone in their 
glory. 

Mr. Cary picked up the wreck of what he knew to 
be the pride of his wife's heart, with a deep sigh of 
despair ; and sat down to look at Caesar, which he did 
in sucli a pensive, studious, despairing manner, that the 
latter intuitively comprehended the contempt and pity 
of the mute expression. 

Mr. Cary's first impulse had been to order him from 
the house, but as he gazed into the sullen and stupid 
face before him, his heart softened toward what he con- 
sidered so fine a specimen of the total depravity of 
man. He is, he thought, but one of the vast family of 
that unfortunate race whom we have undertaken to 



THE EBONY IDOL. 145 

rescue from bondage. Their salvation must be effected 
individually, and perhaps to me is to be given this 
man's most precious soul for keeping. 

As these thoughts revolved themselves in the 
clergyman's mind, he asked himself, what was his own 
individual duty toward this sable brother whom Provi- 
dence seemed designedly to have intrusted to his care. 
Should he faint upon the very threshold of the effort ? 
And if he cast him out as a graceless vagabond, 
who could he expect would befriend him. Beside all 
this, would not the world laugh him to scorn for failing 
to practise his own precepts ? 

Mr. Cary thought and whistled, and whistled and 
thought. 

" Caesar," he said solemnly, " what has my little 
daughter done, that you should persecute a child of her 
tender years. Do you not know how easily children 
can be ruined in body and intellect by unduly exciting 
their fears ? " 

It was impossible to discover, by the man's face, 
whether he even understood the mild language ad- 
dressed to him, certainly he condescended to give no 
intimation verbally, that he did ! 

" Answer me, Caesar. Why did you frighten my 
child ? " 

" Lor' Gor 'Mighty, Massa Cary, hope you don't 
tink dis nigger go for to frighten dat blessed cheru- 
bim? I'se berry much 'flicted wid de win' colic; 
1 



146 THE EBONY IDOL. 

my blessed mudder had it her own sef, an' when 
she die, dis was all de poor woman lef me. Oh, 
Lor' ! I'se gwoin into it agin for sartin ! " and 
embracing the portion of his corporeal system which 
had been so fatally endowed by maternal affection, 
Caesar hugged, and yelled, and rolled up his eyes, 
until the clergyman bent over him with undisguised 
alarm. 

" Oh, Gor ! " cried Caesar, as the temporary pangs 
subsided, and he withdrew one arm to fan himself 
with his hand, "just to tink of agonizing like dat-ar', 
and den be 'cused of going fur to frighten dat angel 
chile ! " 

It was impossible for the unsophisticated witness of 
this impromptu attack, to decide satisfactorily, whether 
the agonizing was real or fictitious, but as he was him- 
self a dyspeptic and no small victim to flatulency, he 
was rather inclined to the opinion that Caesar had 
lavished an extra amount of groans upon a small capital 
of mind. "When, therefore, the unfortunate sufferer 
thought fit to recover, Mr. Cary lost no time in return- 
ing to his original accusation. 

" "Whether you intentionally alarmed my child or 
not, I wish you to distinctly understand, that she must 
not be disturbed again. Beside, Mrs. Cary is not ac- 
customed to having any one in her kitchen or dining- 
room, and would prefer you would sit in your own 



THE EBONY IDOL. 14:7 

Caesar here broke in with a groan or two, and an 
evident inclination to renew his distortions. 

" And furthermore, Caesar, if you remain in our 
house, you must share in the labor of the household. 
My salary is very small, and as you perceive, we all 
share in the burdens of the family. I wish to do for you 
all that I can do wisely, and as a Christian, but I can- 
not distress my family to serve you, or squander the 
small means at my command. I would like you to 
work in the garden, cut my wood, and do such errands 
and chores as will assist my wife. It seems to me you 
cannot but be willing to do this." 

Caesar sat dog-eyed and sullen, without even pre- 
tending to listen. 

Mr. Cary spoke more warmly. 

" I shall make inquiry for you that you may obtain 
employment in some reliable family, where you can be 
paid for your labor; as soon as such an opening is 
found, I shall expect you will leave us willingly ? " 

" Dis nigger didn't come norf to work, no how ; get 
work enuf at de souf ;" cried Caesar indignantly. 

" But you must work or starve ; liberty is nothing, 
unless you can be clothed and fed." 

"Dis chile got clothed and fed at the souf, and 
wan't twitted of it nudder," growled Caesar. " Lor', 
wish you could eat one of Dinah's hoe-cakes, dem's 
fixins as is fixins ! " 

" And let me add, Caesar, that for your own sake 



148 THE EBONY IDOL. 

more than mine, you must give up this profane use of 
holy names, ' Swear not at all.' " 

" Lor' Gor 'Mighty ! dis nigger nebber swear in all 
he born days. Hope to drop down dead dis blessed 
minit if I ebber — " 

" Csesar," cried Mr. Gary, despairingly, " is it possi- 
ble you do not understand that the words you have just 
repeated are used profanely ? ' Thou shalt not 'take 
the name of the Lord thy God in vain.' You have a 
precious soul to be saved or lost, and how can you take 
the sacred name of your final Judge upon your lips so 
lightly?" 

" Boff ! " snorted Csesar, with an evident disrelish 
of the subject. 

" I beg you, Csesar, now that Providence has re- 
leased you from slavery — " 

" Providence hadn't nurthin to do about it ; it was 
jus' dem cussed abolitioners, and dat is fact, Massa 
Cary." 

Mr. Cary groaned. It was evident he had indeed 
fallen upon fallow ground. " Caesar, all gifts are from 
God ! He has doubtless some motive in releasing you 
from a cruel task-master." 

" Nebber heard any nigger, black or white, call my 
ole massa cruel task-massa afore. He was a gemman 
as is a gemman." 

" Why did you leave him, then ? " asked Mr. Cary a 
little testily. 



THE EBONY IDOL. 149 

" Oh, Lor only knows, coz I was seduced I spect, 
Sambo he heard as how dat pussens up norf didn't work 
only when dey had mind ; now dis chile nebber had a 
mind, and so I was seduced." 

" Well, Caesar, as I was saying, you are now a free 
man, and as you w T ill have to act for yourself, you must 
learn to think for yourself, too. Your advancement at 
the ^STorth will depend upon your good behavior. You 
must be civil and respectful in your manners ; you must 
not swear, and you must labor, whether you wish to or 
not, for if you are idle, you will fall into bad habits 
that will ruin you ; beside, as I said before, you must 
be clothed and fed, and endeavor to become a blessing 
to the community." 

As the listener remained silent, the good clergyman, 
warmed in his zeal, and launched forth in an eloquent 
dissertation upon the blessings of liberty, and closed 
by a most fervent religious exhortation, beneath which 
Caesar groaned and squirmed out his impatience in vain. 
When in the path of duty, Mr. Cary was not to be sur- 
passed in persistency, and if Caesar was not awakened 
to a due sense of his depravity it was certainly from no 
omission in the exhortation. 

A little while after Caesar's dismissal from the study, 
Lucy came running breathlessly in, protesting that she 
had seen her grandfather's seal in the negro's hand. 
This seal was a curious antique, much valued by the 
clergyman, and kept upon his study table as a curi- 



150 THE EBONY IDOL. 

osity, and very dear remembrancer of his lost parent. 
A glance at the table showed it to be missing from its 
accustomed place, and the clergyman darted after his 
daughter with more alacrity than he had been known 
to exercise in his life. 

* Csesar was standing by the shed, as Mr. Cary coming 
up, demanded the seal. 

" Nebber see no seal, whatsomebber. Hopfc to 
drop down dead dis blessed minute if I did. Hope 
massa Cary wouldn't tink dat a collered pussen of 
veracity would go fur to be stealin' when mass' Cary 
was a talkin' to him about he sins. Dis chile is a poor 
debbil, dat sartin ; but he tank his Lor' Gor 'Mighty, he 
aint so wicked as dat-ar' ! " 

" But Lucy saw it in your hands. It is a relic of 
my dear departed father ; I used to play with it when a 
boy, sitting on his knee, and he gave it to me with his 
own dying hand. Caesar, I would not lose it for the 
world. Return it to me ; I promise you to excuse the 
theft." 

But Caesar was injured innocence itself, and he 
" spected it was all fur to destroy his character " that 
the accusation was got up. 

The quick eyes of the child had all the while been 
following the movements of Caesar, and noticing a little 
spot of freshly dug s£ud by his feet, with a child's 
intuitive fondness for digging, she commenced excavat- 
ing a sand cellar. Not half a dozen handfuls had 



THE EBONY IDOL. 151 

been tossed out, when a cry of delight burst from 
Lucy's lips. The seal had been uncovered. 

The malicious glance that darted upon the child 
from the negro's eyes was not unnoticed by the father. 
He took her with him to the study, and sat down to 
cogitate upon the delights of personal experience in 
redeeming the slave. 

His home, which two weeks before had been an 
Eden of domestic felicity, was converted into a Pandora's 
box of evil. His own. quiet of soul and body was at 
an end ; his wife was fretted beyond that amiable 
woman's powers of endurance. Lucy was victimized, 
until she scarcely bore a semblance of her former self, 
and all this was endured for the good of one, who 
seemed not to be capable of one sensation of gratitude 
in return. 

Was he in the path of duty ? that was the question. 
Here was his- hobby, beautifully illustrated. There 
were three millions more to be christianized. Mr. 
Cary grew faint in thinking of it. 

The clergyman took his hat, and after suggesting 
to his wife the propriety of watching Caesar, and espe- 
cially of keeping Lucy under her own eye, he sallied 
forth on a round of parochial visits, vowing inwardly, 
that he would not return until he had disposed of his 
sable guest. 



CHAPTEE XVI. 

" From the dejected state in which he is, 
He hopes by you his fortunes yet may flourish." 

Pebicles, Pbince op Tyre. 

Mr. Cary called upon Deacon A and Deacon B and 
Deacon 0, but although the families were full of in- 
quiries about the past history and " capacities " of the 
negro, not one of them could be persuaded to take him 
home. Mrs. A protested she could never eat a mouth- 
ful of food with such a repulsive face at the table. Mrs. 
B thought her children " would be frightened into fits," 
and Deacon C frankly owned that, although he was glad 
the man had escaped, he did not feel called upon to 
support him, though he said he had no objection to 
giving him " fifty cents or so ! " 

Yery despairingly Mr. Cary turned toward Miss 
Dickey. David was hoeing in the garden as the cler- 
gyman came up, and seeing him advance, struck his 
hoe into the ground, pulled off his blue overalls, seized 
the hoe handle with both hands, leaping over it with a 
" fummerset " which brought him to the gate ! 



THE EBONY IDOL. 153 

" Fie, David," cried the clergyman, " are you never 
to leave off these buffooneries ? " 

" Why, you see, sir," cried David, opening the gate 
with his profoundest bow, " my head is heavy and my 
heels light, and so my feet are always getting over my 
head." 

" I do not know what should make your head so 
heavy, David." 

" Oh, if I had died young, it w T ould have been 
known, sir." 

Mr. Cary, who was too familiar with the fooleries 
of the " blasted " David to heed his utterance, acknowl- 
edged a reference to " Amalgamation Sermons," with 
an impatient wave of the hand, and was soon oblivious 
of it in the gratification arising from Miss Dickey's 
very cordial reception. 

The conversation naturally glided toward Csesar's 
advent. Miss Dickey w*as positive he must have de- 
scended from a very distinguished personage by that 
name, whose head she had frequently seen upon medal- 
lions. The relationship, she thought, must be " quite 
distant," but still she fancied she could not be mistaken 
in the resemblance ! The brows in the one case were 
always encircled with a laurel wreath, which gave per- 
haps a more classic contour to the head ; still there was 
certainly a " family likeness." 

Mr. Cary thought it possible, but not probable. He 
7* * 



154 



THE EBONY IDOL. 



was no physiologist, however, and was willing to abide 
by the fair orphan's decision. 

Miss Dickey replied that her greatest delight was in 
clambering up genealogical trees, and when she came 
across a distinguished stranger, she could not rest until 
she had investigated his relationship. 

The desperate Mr. Cary caught at the idea. 
" Perhaps, Miss Dickey, you would like to have 
Caesar as a guest for a few days. We do not wish to 

be selfish, and mo- 
nopolize him at the 
expense of our neigh- 
bors." 

Miss Dickey 
blushed. 

" Really," she 
said, "she had 
thought of inviting 
him, but being an 
orphan, and having 
no one to shield her 
from temptation and 
scandal, she did not 
know as it would be 
entirely proper ! 

Mr. Cary cough- 
ed. " He saw no ob- 

The authentic Portrait of Cuesar as he appeared jection," he Said 1 
to Miss Dickey. 




THE EBONY IDOL. 155 

" David was usually with her. Beside, he saw no rea- 
son why she should deprive herself of acquaintances or 
social pleasures, so innocent of themselves, through fear 
of comment." 

David, who had been listening silently to the con- 
versation, directly caught glimpses of fun in the ascend- 
ant, and urged the invitation with unusual zeal. 

" Now, aunt Julia, do for once be a little more inde- 
pendent ! What a splendid chance it would be ! Who 
knows but what he is the prince royal of some island ! 
at any rate," he added, with an expressive leer toward 
the clergyman, " you would find in him a ' kindred 
spirit.' " 

The fair Julia still questioned the propriety. ".If 
any thing should happen," she said. " Beside, it had 
always been her motto, that young ladies should be 
4 above suspicion ! ' " 

Mr. Cary encouraged, and David avowed his will- 
ingness to watch over her by day and by night, 
until the orphan's sensitiveness gradually melted away, 
and David was allowed to return with Mr. Cary for the 
purpose of bringing him. 

As Miss Dickey had not encountered Caesar since 
the day of the " reception," upon which occasion she 
adorned him with her muse and roses, she felt her virgin 
heart fluttering with pleasing expectation as the mo- 
ments flew by. She twined the cork-screw ringlets 
afresh, and decked the little parlor with flowers, placed 



156 THE EBONY IDOL. 

her Album conspicuously upon the table, and went out 
into the garden to await the arrival. 

When David returned, bearing himself the little 
bundle that contained Caesar's " earthly all," he found 
his orphan aunt pensively reclining beneath an arch of 
Morning Glories, with a volume of the " Children of 
the Abbey " in her hand, and her small gray eyes raised 
sentimentally toward the western horizon. 

The little start of surprise with which she received 
them was charmingly natural, and the twilight passed 
very sentimentally in the garden, where the orphan, 
leaning upon the arm of her dusky friend, invited him 
to " meander." 

And thus easily was Csesar settled in a new home. 
He was now in high clover ! The attentions of the fair 
Julia were delicate and unceasing ; while David plied 
him with flatteries, and encouraged him in all possible 
absurdity. 

The discovery that Csesar could not read was bitter 
but inevitable ; David pronounced it " scandalous ; " 
nor did he rest until, having brushed the dust from an 
ancient Webster's spelling book in the attic, Miss Dickey 
had taken it upon herself to instruct Csesar in the art 
of letters. 

It was the most affecting sight in the world, David 
said, to see that friendless orphan sitting upon the door 
step, under the clematis vine, giving that " young idea " 
the customary lesson in orthographical gunnery. Cse- 



THE EBONY IDOL. 



157 



sar's progress was not encouraging, but the faithful 
Julia persevered assiduously. 

Nor were the efforts of the fair Julia confined simply 
to Csesar's intellectual advancement. She bestirred 
herself in the Carean African's Friend Society for the 
replenishing of his wardrobe, and Caesar rejoiced in a 
new su^t of clothes, a great deal of coarse and badly 
made linen, to say nothing of sentimental keepsakes of 
wrought bookmarks, Chinese slippers, and whimsical 
pincushions ! He was Miss Dickey's constant com- 
panion, and not unfrequently when the virtuous Julia 
issued from the homestead leaning upon the arm of 
Caesar, he would mentally exclaim, — 

" Lor' Gor 'Mighty ! how dem yaller gals would roll 
dar eyes wid bustin' enby, if dey could see dis chile 
jes' dis 'ticular p'int ! " 

It is scarcely wonderful if Caesar began to regard 
the " plantation " as being within his reach. His arro- 
gance grew also, and the mercurial David himself began 
in a little while to weary of the insolence which the 
negro thought proper to assume toward him. 

So earnestly, however, did the fair orphan " live up " 
to some of her beliefs, that it is not possible to say 
where her amalgamation would have ended, if an ap- 
parently trifling circumstance had not given a sudden 
turn to affairs, and brought into conflict the several 
predilections of her maiden life, forcing a premature 
choice between them. 



158 THE EBONY IDOL. 

David had a fancy for dabbling in some simple 
chemical elements, and had on one occasion tried the 
effect of a preparation of phosphorus upon the fair sur- 
face of Caesar's face and hands, and that to the no small 
terror of Csesar himself. Subsequently, anxious to 
dispossess the colored worthy of the idea that he had 
bewitched him, David attempted one day, as soon as 
darkness rendered his experiments visible, to explain 
the nature and effects of phosphorus, and closed his 
lecture with the very gratifying trick of bathing his 
face, hands and hair with the phosphorated oil, and giv- 
ing chase to poor Csesar, who, being frightened out of 
his few remaining senses, flew from him as if he had been 
beleaguered by demons ; David groping after him with 
his fiery clutches waving to and fro, all the while throw- 
ing off sparks and stars of what seemed to the super- 
stitious pupil to be the genuine blue flames of the hot- 
test of places. 

Poor Csesar, like the righteous Lot, staid not to look 
behind him, but rushing hither and thither, finally 
turned toward the house to seek the common refuge of 
his sleeping room ; when, as his evil genius would have 
it, Lord Mortimer, with the propensity that all house- 
hold pets possess of getting directly under foot, was 
taking his evening siesta upon the warm flag of the 
door sill. Lord Mortimer, belonging to that unfortu- 
nate class of animated clay which always awakens in 
bad humor, besides having from the first become Cse- 



THE EBONY IDOL. 159 

sar's most formidable enemy, and possessed, naturally 
of the canine instinct to follow that which seems to fly, 
immediately sprang to his feet, and snapping with fierce 
ivories upon the intruder's " long-tailed blue," raised 
the most hideous signal of alarm. Caesar gave the 
four-footed Lord a blow upon the head ; that, however, 
only changed the attack from the long-tailed blue to its 
owner's almost equally long heel ; and Coesar in this new 
agony lifted up his voice and yelled to the utmost ca- 
pacity of his lungs. 

Now as it happened, the amiable Julia, attracted by 
the first noise, had arrived upon the scene just in season 
to see the blow fall upon the regal caput of her adored 
Mortimer. She was attacked in her tenderest point, 
and rushed fiercely forward, with what purpose perhaps 
she scarcely knew ; but Caesar, hurt and desperate from 
terror, assumed the worst, and fled headlong into his 
chamber, and locking his door, dove between the sheets 
as the surest place of refuge from such accumulated 
persecutions ! 

" But where can weary man find rest ? " where, in- 
deed, when not even here was our sable hero allowed 
to repose in peace ! 

The miserable Euphemia, a cat destitute of* a single 
redeeming virtue, had the intolerable propensity, in 
common with other pet cats, of depositing herself upon 
all sorts of comfortable beddings. Usually she purred 
the nights away upon the foot of her mistress' mattress, 



160 THE EBONY IDOL. 

but upon this particular occasion she had thought proper 
to vary the performances by depositing herself between 
the sheets of the outraged Caesar ! 

Like Lord Mortimer, she had been aristocratically 
inclined, bristling up her fur and spitting out her venom 
at Caesar's appearance ! And now, when her ladyship 
was dreaming of gallantries and feline triumphs, to be 
unceremoniously aroused by the weight of a frightened 
Sambo was beyond the forbearance of all cats, to say 
nothing of this particular Euphemia ! 

"Without waiting to parley, Miss Euphemia therefore 
planted her malicious claws upon the only available 
portion of the intruders person, and seizing his nose 
between her teeth, proceeded to test its elasticity by a 
process that for a moment made Caesar suspend his 
breath in any thing but admiration. The sweat of mor- 
tal fear was upon Caesar, and catching Mademoiselle's 
body with a grasp that suddenly caused the relinquish- 
ment of her hold, he dashed her beautiful head com- 
pletely flat with one blow against the bedpost. 

The one yell of the shattered Euphemia was not ut- 
tered in vain ! 

The auricular sensitiveness of a maiden lady when 
the interests of her pets are concerned is not to be sur- 
passed I Calling David to her aid, the two immediately 
went to the rescue, and Caesar was called upon to rise, 
stand, and deliver, which he absolutely refused to do in 
language which we do not care to repeat. It was only 



THE EBONY IDOL. 161 

when Julia withdrew, and David was left to negotiate, 
that Caesar listened to reason, and allowed the fate of 
the miserable Euphemia to be investigated by candle- 
light ! 

Caesar himself was not a whit less bloody than his 
enemy, and as David glanced from one to the other, 
and became sensible to the elegant etchings Euphemia 
had left upon the ebony visage, the scene was so inde- 
scribably ludicrous that poor David, regardless of Cae- 
sar's wounds, and of the void this violent death would 
create in his aunt's breast, sent up such a peal of mer- 
riment that Julia again rushed to the sanguinary scene ! 
But, alas ! no sooner had her gray eyes rested upon the 
hapless Euphemia, all stark and gory, than 

"Down fell the lovely damsel 
All like a slaughtered lamb !" 

David chivalrously received the drooping figure, 
and speedily recalled her to consciousness by rehearsing 
the causes of Euphemia's untimely end ! The scene 
of mutual recrimination that followed defies descrip- 
tion. The orphan was borne to her room in hysterics, 
while Caesar cursed the hour of his " seduction," and 
heaped anathemas upon all the conductors of under- 
ground railroads ! 

It was past midnight when David had succeeded in 
restoring his aunt's nervous equilibrium ; and having 
seen her made comfortable for the night, returned to 
solace the disconsolate Caesar. 



162 THE EBONY IDOL. 

The day following, the body of Euphemia was de- 
posited beneath a favorite rose tree, and Caesar was 
given to understand that his days of favor were num- 
bered. 

David, when he discovered that his merriment was 
at an end, and being well aware of the sarcasm already 
attached to his aunt's attentions to Caesar, understood 
the propriety of having his transfer appear to be the 
result of accident. He went therefore to suggest to 
Mr. Hobbs the propriety of receiving him as a laborer 
upon his farm. The idea being an economical one was 
sufficiently agreeable, and David returned to announce 
the transfer to the sable guest. 

The parting between Julia and Caesar was more im- 
pressive than tender. 

" He tank his Lor' Gor 'Mighty dat he shake de dus' 
ob dat cussed housen off his feet ; " while she, with 
more dignified contempt, suspiciously watched his part- 
ing movements, as if expecting to lose half of her 
worldly gear. It was afterwards surmised that several 
missing articles had been appropriated by him as keep- 
sakes, but as Julia had her own reasons for silence, she 
faithfully kept his secret. 



CHAPTEE XYII. 



" It is a basilisk unto mine eye- 
Kills me to look on't.' 1 — Cymbeline. 



Me. and Mrs. Hobbs received our hero with very 
little ceremony, and with coarse good nature. He was 
at once ordered to the field as a matter of course, where 
day after day he labored side by side with the master 
of the house, mingling freely with the family, sitting at 
their table, and sharing the chit-chat of the sitting- 
room, where the family congregated when the duties 
of the day were over. He was considered their equal, 
and treated as such. Mr. and Mrs. Hobbs, as we have 
said, had from the first espoused Mr. Cary's amalgama- 
tion theories with the utmost sincerity. They believed 
the negro to be their equal, physically and mentally. 
They had no fastidious refinements to be shocked by his 
peculiarities, and he was as agreeable a companion to 
them as if he had been of their own kith and kin. 

But there was a third member of this family, to 
whom Csesar's arrival was a precursor of evil, and this 
was no other than the pretty Mary, of whose sweet 



164: THE EBONY IDOL. 

face the reader has already caught glimpses as he has 
followed the lights and shadows of Minden life. 

Mary Hobbs, as she was always called, was not the 
child of the coarse couple with whom she lived, and 
whose name she bore. They had no children, and after 
a manner not uncommon in their line of life had adopt- 
ed from a neighboring charitable institution — partly to 
supply the natural want they felt, and partly to act as 
a little servant — this girl, and with them she had grown 
up from childhood, the sweetest wild flower that fate 
ever cast upon the bosom of charity. 

Of the manner of her advent to the " Poor Farm," 
or whose child she was, they knew nothing, and cared 
quite as little. 

With all her external grace and delicacy, this charm- 
ing waif inherited that exquisite love of the beautiful, 
and innate shrinking from contact with all forms of re- 
pulsiveness, which almost always is the natural endow- 
ment of such frail and pensive sweetness of form and 
face. She loathed the very atmosphere that Caesar 
breathed, and shrank from him as she would from the 
infection of a pestilence. The food upon the table be- 
came unpalatable in his presence, and she shrank away 
from the seat which was allotted her by his side, until 
the jeers and taunts, and lastly the commands of her 
foster-parents obliged her to resume it. 

His daily civilities, so long as they were confined to 
exchanges of such little attentions as naturally arise in 



THE EBONY IDOL. 165 

domestic intercourse, were endured because they were 
necessary ; but when Caesar's familiarity rij>ened into 
admiration, and he dared to cast his eyes upon her as 
one whom he might regard as a companion, poor Mary 
grew almost frantic in her intolerance, and loathed him 
with an intensity that fairly inspired her fragile person. 

It would seem impossible that her foster-parents 
should remain impassive to her complaints, or reject 
the poor child's pleadings to be delivered from a pres- 
ence so obnoxious to her. But as Mrs. Hobbs found 
the sable guest sufficiently congenial to meet her own 
approval, and having through the utter want of sym- 
pathy between them, finally come to consider the poor 
girl as a burdensome comfort, tolerated because she 
could not now be gotten rid of, she had at first regarded 
the child's likes or dislikes with entire indifference ; and 
as Csesar grew almost importunate, and Mary, after 
pleading in vain for an intercession her parents declined 
to give her, took it upon herself to repulse and avoid 
him upon every occasion, in the most emphatic manner, 
both by her behavior and language, Mrs. Hobbs be- 
came irritated by this assumption of daring to act with- 
out her sanction, joined with Caesar, and there were 
two parties in this household upon this very peculiar 
matter. 

Mr. Hobbs, although a trifle more cultivated than 
his wife, was yet incapable of seeing any impropriety 
in the association of these two. As for love, it was an 



166 THE EBONY IDOL. 

obsolete notion ; lie did not fancy it existed out of nov- 
els. He had married Mrs. Hobbs because she made 
good butter and cheese, and was evidently of an 
economical turn ; but had another made butter and 
cheese better than Mrs. Hobbs, he would most certainly 
have preferred that other. 

Csesar, he said, was a good worker ; he accomplished 
more labor in a day than he did himself, and that was 
a compliment he would bestow upon few. The man 
was well enough for aught he saw, and there was no 
economical consideration to induce him to keep Mary 
at home. Beside, Mr. Hobbs had all his life been thirst- 
ing for office ; it was his hobby, an honor for which he 
had angled day and night, and which seemed to be 
floating almost within his reach. He was the abolition 
aspirant for the laurels of second representativeship ! 
Nothing, he fancied, would so ingratiate him into 
the favor of his party, as this signal exposition of his 
principles ! Had Mary been his own daughter, he 
would have sacrificed her upon this altar of his ambi- 
tion. His wife had all her life fancied that to be the 
wife of a representative was the embodiment of all 
earthly aggrandizement. They had labored with one 
heart and mind for the realization of this eclat, and 
now, when the hopes of party spirit seemed concentrat- 
ing upon Mr. Hobbs as the most zealous exponent of 
the abolition platform, and the bubble was within his 



THE EBONY IDOL. 167 

grasp, every energy was concentrated upon the attain- 
ment of the prize. 

Week after week poor Mary struggled with the un- 
natural persecution, until her cheek grew pale, and her 
eyes sunken with weeping. She had never mingled 
very freely with other families of the village, partly be- 
cause Mrs. Hobbs herself was not much sought after 
by her neighbors, partly because she had always been 
a kind of domestic drudge in the family in which she 
was adopted, and also because she was so sensitive and 
shy, and found so little congeniality in the less morbid 
temperaments of the village maidens, that she preferred 
the exclusiveness that left her free to enjoy her own 
emotions without comment. "When, therefore, Mary 
found herself unhappy, and greatly needing some reli- 
able friend whose counsels might be of service in extri- 
cating her from her dilemma, she became painfully con- 
scious that possibly not a single being in Minden cared 
sufficiently for her happiness to interest themselves in 
her trials. She hardly knew why, but she could not 
bring herself to speak of her troubles to Frank Stan- 
ton. The attentions of Caesar and the persecutions of 
her foster-parents almost degraded her in her own eyes, 
and she dreaded lest Stanton would loathe her too, 
when her name was associated with Csesar's. Then, 
too, their intercourse had been so limited, his attentions 
so delicately bestowed, and so reservedly received upon 
her part, that she felt it impossible to give him her con- 



168 THE EBONY IDOL. 

fidence unsolicited. Her heart warmed more naturally 
towards our old acquaintance, " Nannie," than to any 
other ; but she knew that she could only escape from 
her present embarrassments by flying from her foster- 
parents' roof, and her confidence in Nannie would be 
virtually asking her to become responsible for her fu- 
ture home. There was a fondness, too, in her heart, 
for the only parents she had ever known ; it was her 
nature to love every thing with which she came in con- 
tact that was in the least lovable, and she could not 
think of a final separation from her childhood's home 
with indifference. 

A thousand objections presented themselves to the 
mind of the young girl whenever she became restive 
under her grievances, until she resumed her burdens 
again, trusting to time and chance to relieve her of 
Caesar's importunities. 

It was during one of these despairing moods that 
she had stolen away from the home drudgery to solace 
herself with the solitary indulgence of her own sad 
thoughts. Close by the river side was a shaded nook, 
sacred to her from the earliest hour of her remem- 
brance, and thither she strolled for the indulgence of 
her sorrows. 

To her surprise the haunt was preoccupied, and that 
too by no other than Frank Stanton himself, evidently 
absorbed in the perusal of a letter which lay open be- 
fore him. Mary turned quickly aside, but her step, 



THE EBONY IDOL. 169 

light as it was, had betrayed her ; Stanton sprang to 
his feet. 

" Excuse me, Miss Mary," he said, detaining her, 
" I am so glad you have come ; I was going myself to 
see you, to bid you good-bye," he added, sadly, as he 
saw her unwillingness to remain. 

The little word fell like a knell upon her ear, and 
she instinctively repeated it, as her blue eyes sought 
his face inquiringly. 

" Yes, Mary, I am going home ; my father has sent 
for me, and his orders are peremptory." 

The color faded slowly from the young girl's cheek, 
and the long lashes drooped lower and lower over the 
tell-tale eyes that she durst not raise to his face. 

There was a long and embarrassing silence. 

" You can have little to regret in leaving our quiet 
country, Mr. Stanton ; but your friends will be sorry to 
give you up." 

" And you, Mary ? Is this little acquaintance all 
we shall ever see of each other ? " It was said sadly, 
as if the thought were painful to the speaker. Overbur- 
dened as her poor heart was with its concealed bitter- 
ness, it is no wonder that she felt the hot tears rushing 
to her relief. The long lashes drooped lower still, while 
she shaded her face from his earnest gaze. 

" Shall you never return here again ?— never ? " she 
asked at last, tremulously. 

Unfortunately her downcast eyes did not read in the 
8 



170 THE EBONY IDOL. 

handsome face before her the great struggle for self- 
command that was visible there. She heard only the 
reply that fell from his lips with what seemed to her 
longing heart a cold and unimpassioned voice. 

" I cannot tell, Mary ; perhaps not until those I 
have known and loved here are changed or lost to me 
forever." 

Sad as was the tone with which these words were 
uttered, there was a reservedness about them that sent 
a chill to her sensitive heart, and the innate pride of 
her sex was aroused. 

" Let me hope, then, you may be successful and 
happy, Mr. Stanton, in the future, and let me bid you 
good-bye." 

She extended her hand in her old quiet, smiling 
way. Frank took it between both of his, pressed it 
reverentially to his lips ; and almost before he was aware 
of her intention, she had glided away. 

He called her passionately by name, for a moment 
pursuing her, but she only fled from him the faster, 
until, irritated with himself and her, he saw her disap- 
pear within the old farm house. 

It was well that the interview had so ended, 
and Stanton said so to himself as he lay despair- 
ingly upon the green turf, and hid his quivering face 
in his hands. For, after all, what had he, with such 
family surroundings as his, to hope from a sickly at- 
tachment to this frail Northern flower, which his father 



THE EBONY IDOL. 171 

would bid him trample under his feet as unworthy a 
throb of his heart? Besides, his life was but just 
opening upon the ambitious career his father had mark- 
ed out for him ; and he understood his own wayward 
moods sufficiently well to know that his impressible na- 
ture might be decoyed from its allegiance to the pensive 
Mary long before he would be at liberty to espouse 
her. Indeed, he knew that even did his own heart re- 
main faithful to her, it was a union his parents would 
never sanction, and he must cling to the one with the 
loss of family and fortune. 

To what purpose, then, should he seek to disturb the 
even tenor of her young life ? Ought he, for his own , 
selfish gratification, to seek her for a more tender part- 
ing, which might deceive her with false hopes, although 
it could not deceive her in regard to the real tenderness 
of his own heart ? True, he left her to struggle with 
an existence which to him appeared a thousand times 
worse than death, inasmuch as her home was so bleak 
and drear that her own loveliness seemed utterly mis- 
placed. But then it was the only home she had ever 
known, and with which she had always seemed satis- 
fied ; she would always live on as she had lived, until 
some more fortunate lover should transplant her to 
bloom upon his own breast ; and after all, impossible 
as the thought then seemed, Mary might live and die 
more happily than if she had become his bride. 

And so, hour after hour, Stanton lay upon the green 



172 THE EBONY IDOL. 

grass, his face still buried in his hands, struggling to 
reconcile his heart to his judgment, and disciplining 
his affection to sacrifice itself to the interest of its idol ! 
It was a noble, unselfish heart that could thus struggle 
in silence, when the object of its intense passion could 
be had for the asking. He knew that, and yet not for 
a lifetime of bliss would he have brought one pang to 
her heart. His face was whiter than the clouds above 
him when he arose from the place upon which, like 
Jacob, he had " wrestled and prevailed." 

" Oh, Mary ! " he cried, as he lingered upon the 
spot where they parted ; " how many, many times 
your feet will rest upon this sod, and yet no voice will 
arise from it to bear witness to the purity of a love that 
can thus sacrifice you ! " 

He extended his arms passionately toward the old 
farm-house, as if yearning for a final embrace ; flung 
them wildly "aloft as if invoking the blessing of heaven 
upon his idol ; and the next morning, before the village 
was astir, Frank Stanton was homeward bound. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

"Abashed she blushed, and with disorder spoke."— Prior. 

It was late in the afternoon of the following day, 
that Mary, as she leaned moodily against one of the 
tall stiff poplars that adorned her home, saw Squire 
Bryan approaching, with the evident intention of 
addressing her. Her first impulse was to avoid him ; 
her second, to sink upon the wooden bench, from which 
she had arisen, and pressing her hands nervously to- 
gether, await his wishes. 

Squire Bryan threw himself by her side, and his 
crutch at her feet. 

" I am rather old to be made a medium for romantic 
young men, but Stanton went off in such a hurry, 
Miss Mary, he said he had not time to do his errand 
himself. He wished me to take over some volumes of 
poems which he thought you might like to keep as 
remembrancers of olden times, and some other knick- 
nacks which he fancied might not be unacceptable. 
Take witness, therefore, that I have faithfully fulfilled 



174 THE EBONY IDOL. 

the mission." And the Squire relieved his pockets of 
sundry packages, without once glancing towards her. 
Indeed, he seemed absorbed in examining the five tall 
poplars, that rose so prime and stiff before the farm- 
house, and which he protested looked like five old 
maids going to church with their hymn books in their 
hands. 

" Mr. Stanton is gone, then ? " asked Mary, after 
the first emotion had subsided. " I w T as not aware he 
was to go so soon." 

The Squire finished whistling Yankee Doodle before 
he thought proper to answer. 

" Frank, gone ? Yes, he was off this morning by 
the first coach." And here Squire Bryan sighed as if 
half of his heart had gone w T ith him. " Nannie and I 
have been roaming from one room to another'all day. 
I do not see just now how we are to get along without 
him." 

" He is not to return, then ? " Mary asked, faintly. 

" No ; I had a letter from his father about the same 
time with Frank's summons. The old gentleman has 
got some matrimonial notion into his head, and has 
recalled Frank to marry him off to some rich fairy, that 
has dazzled his own eyes. So I suppose the law is not 
to be thought of again." 

Here the Squire resumed his whistling. 

The poor girl's cheek paled and crimsoned, and 
crimsoned and paled, and then her face settled into a 



THE EBONY IDOL. 175 

cold stony pallor most frightful to look upon, and all the 
while Squire Bryan went on whistling, without one 
glance of pity. 

"Mr. Stanton was acquainted with his father's 
wishes, I suppose," Mary said, in a low, husky voice, 
after a long silence. 

" Oh, yes, of course. Frank knows that whenever 
he does marry he must marry a rich beauty, and one of 
family, otherwise his father will cut him off without a 
shilling. Frank cannot kick against the pricks — the 
lucky dog has got to have a rich wife in spite of him- 
self. Some people are born so. Are Mr. and Mrs. 
Hobbs well to-day ? By the way, I hear Caesar has 
proved to have a very susceptible heart, after all," and 
Squire Bryan glanced roguishly toward the young girl. 
For the first time he became sensible of her deadly 
pallor. 

" Bless me," he cried, springing to his feet, " what a 
ghost you are ! Are you ill ? Are you faint ? Shall I 
get you a glass of water ? " he cried, as Mary continued 
to shake her head without speaking. 

" Go in, then — go in, child — don't sit in the draught 
under these poplars ; " and the Squire placing his hand 
kindly upon her arm, assisted her to rise, and leading 
her to the door, bade her take care of herself, and 
retired. 

Mary tottered to her chamber like a sick child, and 
throwing herself helplessly upon her knees by the bed- 



176 THE EBONY IDOL. 

Bide, kind nature came to her relief, and mercifully 
shrouded her into momentary forgetfulness. It was 
here Mrs. Hobbs found her, when, having called in 
vain, she had gone in pursuit of her. 

" You hussy you, why don't you come when I call 
you ? 'Tis a pretty time to be on your knees, when the 
fire is to be kindled for supper, and you are always 
wanted. Get up, I say ! " and she pulled the girl sav- 
agely by the arm. " Luddy Massy ! Luddy Massy ! " 
cried the woman, as she became conscious of Mary's 
insensibility. " Mr. Hobbs ! M-i-s-t-e-r IT-o-b-b-s ! 
C-ae-s-a-r ! " she screamed, wringing her hands in un- 
feigned alarm. " For Massy's sake come up here this 
minit ! Mary is as dead as a nit ! " And Mrs. Hobbs 
set up a boo-hooing that would have been " illegant " 
at a wake. 

The two men thus touchingly appealed to, came 
trundling up stairs, but when they had arrived were 
equally ignorant of what should be done, but stood in 
the remotest corner of the room, gazing in blank dis- 
may upon the beautiful form kneeling there all uncon- 
scious of wrong and suffering ! 

" How cal-um she looks ! " sobbed Mrs. Hobbs, wip- 
ing her eyes upon the corner of her apron ! 

"Clam as de angels of hebben ! " whimpered 
Caesar, rolling up his eyes, and drawing his finger 
across his upper lip with an accompanying sniff, while 



THE EBONY IDOL. 177 

Mr. Hobbs plunging both hands into his pantaloons 
pockets stared at her in open-mouthed wonder. 

It was only when Mary began to show signs of re- 
turning animation that the three bestirred themselves 
to action. Mrs. Hobbs stifled her with camphor, while 
Caesar scorched feathers by the aid of lucifer matches. 
Mr. Hobbs, who had vainly ransacked the house for a 
palm-leaf fan, returned with the leathern bellows in- 
stead, and like a true son of Yulcan blew with such pre- 
cision and effect that poor Mary, after an ineffectual 
struggle to breathe, relapsed into a second and longer 
swoon, which so frightened the well-meaning execu- 
tioners that they suspended their efforts and Caesar was 
despatched for our kind physician, Dr. Baker, whose 
benevolent countenance beamed upon Mary's awaken- 
ing. 

The poor girl returned to her old domestic ways, 
more patient and long-suffering than before, not even 
shrinking from the attentions of Caesar, or growing 
impatient over the selfish exactions of her parents. And 
yet a painful metamorphosis was going on in the young 
girl's nature. She became more self-reliant, less timid, 
and mingled more freely with her acquaintances. 

The repose and dignity of soul which in all noble 
natures springs up from the ashes of despair, came to 
the support of the hopeless Mary. She became con- 
scious that the fearful alliance that her foster-parents 
were assuming for her could and should be avoided ; 
8* 



178 THE EBONY IDOL. 

and many a sleepless night the poor child lay tossing 
upon her bed, forming scheme after scheme, only to be 
abandoned as impracticable. It was during one of 
these night-watches that the image of David Dickey 
presented itself. His mild good nature and ready wit 
had been often brought to her rescue, and from her 
earliest childhood he had been a kind of guardian spirit 
coming to her relief over the hard sums and copies in 
her school tasks. She knew at once that if human 
agency could lift her out of her peril, it would be found 
in the brawny arms and hearty good will of her old 
schoolfellow, and her heart leaj)ed with impatience to 
appeal to him. Some days elapsed before the oppor- 
tunity presented itself, when tying on her chip hat, she 
wended her way to Miss Dickey's residence. As she 
passed the village cemetery, she saw the object of her 
pursuit leaning thoughtfully upon the stone wall, 
seemingly absorbed in contemplating the resting- 
place of the dead, nor was he conscious of her 
approach until he felt the soft touch of her hand upon 
his arm. 

" Providence is propitious to-day, David, for I came 
out on purpose to seek you, to give you my confidence," 
she added, smiling, " and to ask for your aid." 

The young man gazed at her inquiringly, and with 
a strange flushing of his sunburnt face, and motioned 
for her to sit down beside him. 

" No, let us go in," said Mary, opening the wooden 



THE EBONY IDOL. 17£ 

gate ; and, seeking out an old stone beneath the shade 
of the wall, the two sat down. 

" You must be my confidant, David, but you must 
promise not to betray me." 

A little dimness of dissatisfaction passed over 
David's face. 

" If you think me capable of betraying you, you 
would do better not to confide in me." 

" David ! " cried Mary, reproachfully, " do not quar- 
rel with me upon the onset. I am too miserable to 
bear even a jest," and the poor girl burst into tears. 

David knew it was no common grief that could 
so disturb the quiet-hearted Mary. 

" Don't weep, Mary ; you know me of old to be 
light of tongue. If I can serve you, speak out freely, 
and it shall be done." 

Mary ceased weeping, and sat with her blue eyes 
gazing wistfully into his. 

" David, do you know any place in the country 
where I could probably find a situation to do house- 
work or sewing ? any thing, indeed, where I could re- 
main unknown and support myself ? " 

The young man gazed at her as if he half suspected 
her sanity. " Do you mean that you wish to go out 
to service ? " he asked, in surprise. 

" Yes," she said, firmly. " I wish to do any thing 
that an honest person can do, to be independent. I 
knew you had been a good deal away, and thought it 



180 THE EBONY IDOL. 

more probable you could aid me to a place than any 
other. I wish to go immediately, and without any one's 
knowledge." 

David hesitated. "What could tempt Mary to wish 
to leave her parents, and how could so delicate a being 
hope to be able to supply her most common needs by 
the labor of her hands ? He longed to know, and yet 
durst not question her. 

" I could certainly find you a situation with very 
little effort, but I beg you will first be certain that it is 
for your interest to leave home." 

A painful suspicion flitted through David's brain 
that her flight had some connection with Frank Stan- 
ton's departure. And yet he manfully rejected the 
implied insult to the poor girl's confidence. 

" If you would trust me with your reasons for this 
strange movement, perhaps we could bring about your 
wishes without exposing you to all this hardship." 

Mary's face flushed crimson, as her eye fell beneath 
his earnest gaze. Strangely enough she divined the 
very thought that was passing in David's brain. 

" David," she said, speaking out firmly, like one 
who is conscious of her own integrity, "I will tell 
you the whole truth. They wish to marry me to 
Caesar." 

" The devil they do ! " cried David, springing to his 
feet as if a shock of electricity propelled him ; and he 
stood before her with clinched hands and set teeth, glar- 



THE EBONY IDOL. 181 

ing into her face, as if the monstrosity were not to be 
believed. 

Mary laughed hysterically, as she gazed at him 
panting out his indignation. " Do you wonder I wish 
to go to service now ? " 

" Is it possible you can be serious, Mary ? In the 
name of Heaven, who could have originated so beastly 
a design ? " 

Mary laughed again, more nervously than before. 
" I believe I am going crazed, David, with this long 
struggle ; " and she gave way again to mingled tears 
and laughter. 

When the two became more calm, and David 
became familiar with the novel idea, his quick perception 
discovered at a glance the causes that were operating 
against her. 

" It is a great pity Csesar did not marry my aunt 
Julia," cried he, indignantly. " If nothing but amalga- 
mation will suit them, they ought at least to consult 
the wishes of the bride, and I know that ' Barcus was 
willing.' " 

There was another outbreak of laughing, and as 
Mary looked into David's happy face, she felt all her 
burdens vanish. 

" Well, we must get rid of Caesar. Do you stay 
where you are, and remain passive in their hands — it 
will be best so, as opposition will only increase their 
rancor. Trust to me, I never was outwitted yet. And 



182 THE EBONY IDOL. 

do not fret so, Mary," he said, looking anxiously into 
her thin face, " you never shall lack a friend so long as 
my name is David Dickey ! Whether you see me or 
not, you may rest assured that I am watching over 
your safety, and when you see your deliverance at 
hand, you will know I am near." 

Mary thanked him again and again, and went home 
happier than she had come. David, after watching her 
slight figure receding in the distance, re-entered the 
gate, and sat down upon the seat she had vacated, 
plucking at the long grass, and twining the green blades 
around his fingers. How unlike he seemed, in his 
sombre reverie, to the thoughtless, giddy-brained 
nephew of Julia Dickey ! He was living over again 
the sunny remembrances of the old school-house, where 
he had sat during the cold winter hours, mindful of 
little else but the pale, sweet face bending over the desk 
in the corner, whose eyes intuitively turned toward his 
when the lesson grew burdensome, stealthily holding 
up the perplexing sum, or. slipping across to him the 
copy-book to which her unaccustomed pen refused to 
do justice ! How he had laden his pockets at his aunt 
Julia's cupboards, in order that he might surprise her 
with hidden offerings when she peeped into her desk 
of a morning ! How he had lingered behind his school- 
fellows to say kind words to her, when she went home 
apart from the village misses ! How valiantly he had 
defended her rights upon the playground, and knocked 



THE EBONY IDOL. 183 

down the " largest boy " for daring to insult her ! How 
he had ransacked the old newspapers, and almanacs, 
and Eeaders for tit-bits of adoring poetry, which he 
copied with the nicest care, and slipped into her hand, or 
placed between the leaves of her spelling-book ! Did 
he not know, too, every flower that little Mary Hobbs 
loved ? And did he not bring her to see every bird's 
nest and new brood of aunt Julia's menagerie? In 
fact, was there any thing that really existed for David, 
which he considered independent of its connection with 
Mary's happiness ! Then, too, what happy blissful 
hours they had spent under the old sand hill, scooping 
out mysterious cavities, and naming them after all sorts 
of romantic horribles gleaned from their story-books!- 
"What bakeries they had instituted, piling up their 
scalloped tins, and patting their mimic pies and cakes 
into a perfection unknown beyond the precincts of small- 
clothes ! 

Ab ! childhood — childhood 1 the blessedest thing 
That nature ever invented 1 

And so David went on, plucking the long grasses, 
and dreaming over his boyhood, until with a long- 
drawn sigh he cast both grass and memory aside, and 
passing his rough hand over his sunburnt face, like one 
dizzy with his awakening — he paused a moment, and 
went his way. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

" If by your art you have 
Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them." — Tempest. 

Mary's " engagement " soon came to be rumored 
abroad. Those of her own sex who should have pitied 
and counselled better things, ridiculed and abused her, 
while old men and young men congregated upon the 
piazza of Glynn's Hotel for no other ostensible purpose 
but to talk over and compare opinions upon this ridic- 
ulous engagement ! Their perplexity increased with 
the frequency of the congregating, until nothing re- 
N mained to be done but to plunge their arms to the el- 
bows in their pockets, and magnanimously await the 
result ! 

The pretty Mary gradually became sensible to the 
ridicule attached to her position ; at first she smiled, 
and entreated their forbearance with her mute, appeal- 
ing eyes, trusting that no one could believe her so des- 
titute of all self-respect. But as murmur after murmur 
reached her, and she felt that her few friends shrank 
from her as something too debased for common courtesy, 



THE EBONY IDOL. 185 

she threw herself at the feet of her foster-parents, and 
begged them to do her justice. 

" If you must disgrace and torture me," she cried, 
" make the people conscious that I am the victim, and 
not the designer ! " 

" A pretty time of day when sich as you talk to 
them as has sheltered you ever since your own parents 
left you, Luddy knows where, about torterin' you ! " 
cried Mrs. Hobbs, tossing her head scornfully ; " didn't 
I and Mr. Hobbs take you from the 'sylum where you 
come a beggarly outcast, that nobody else would take 
in ! and didn't we go for to clothe, for to feed and for 
to treat you like our own child, when nobody else would 
go for to clothe and for to feed you ! Says I to Mr. 
Hobbs, says I that morning, What's best to do with that 
ar young un' ? Says he to me, says he, I s'pose we 
must do sumthin' ! Says I to him, says I, Perhaps she 
might grow up to be a great help to us, and her keepin' 
can't cost us much, no how we can fix it ! I reckon 
she would be mighty handy to drive in the geese and 
hens, and do little chores like. Mr. Hobbs, he stopped 
and scratched his head a minit, and then says he to me, 
says he, If you can keep her from squalling night and 
day, I don't care what you do with her ; and so I and 
Mr. Hobbs took you in ! and a nastier little brat no- 
body ever see, I guess! And ne-ow after all of this 
'ere kindness, here you are talking to I and Mr. Hobbs 
about torterin 5 you ! Snooky ! " 



186 THE EBONY IDOL. 

Mrs. Hobbs' indignation stifled her eloquence, and 
slie stood panting and winking, and gulping down her 
anger, as her eyes flashed and blazed upon the pale face 
before her. 

" What I should have been without you, Heaven 
only knows," cried Mary ; " but if my condition could 
have been worse than it is, then God pity me ! " 

If Mrs. Hobbs' unclassic nostrils had represented 
the Northern Pole, and the anger which actually flashed 
from that amiable lady's countenance the electric phe- 
nomenon known as the Northern Lights, the pen of a 
thousand travellers had been vainly worn to the stump 
in attempting to delineate the magnificence of the co- 
ruscations ! 

Poor Mary cowered before the ominous silence, for 
she knew but too well that the good dame, like her 
mother earth, grew intensely breathless while the earth- 
quake within her breast gathered strength and fury ! 
Nor was the young girl mistaken ! Vesuvius never 
vomited forth a more wonderful exhibition of embow- 
elled malignity than came hissing from her foul lips 
upon the defenceless girl. No epithet was too low, 
no accusation too absurd, no taunt too gross to escape 
her, and Mary's crimson face bent like the young sap- 
ling low before the storm it could not defy ! 

The passion of Mrs. Hobbs had just perfected itself 
in one grand climax of abuse, when the brass knocker 
suspended upon the front door of Mr. Hobbs' farm- 



THE EBONY IDOL. 187 

house announced that the Key. Mr. Cary was seeking 
admission to this lamb of his flock. 

No sooner was the pastor's voice heard in the hall, 
than with a denunciatory shake of her clenched fist 
and an emphatic warning to Mary to " hold her 
tongue," the lady of the house turned with many smiles 
and the blandest of faces to receive her visitor. Mary 
availed herself of the opportunity to escape from her 
presence, and indulge in the only luxury the poor child 
had ever known, that of tears ! 

Gliding from one topic to another, Mr. Cary soon 
approached the one most occupying his thoughts. 

" The rumors of the village do not often reach me, 
Mrs. Hobbs, but I am told upon good authority that 
your daughter Mary is encouraging the addresses of 
Caesar." 

Mrs. Hobbs affected a little smirk of intelligence. 

" Every dog must have his day, you know, Mr. 
Cary." 

" Do I understand you to mean that the report is 
well founded ? " asked Mr. Cary, with great surprise in 
his tone and manner. 

" Well, murder will out ; I s'pose we must lose Mary 
sooner or later," and Mrs. Hobbs went on smirking and 
knitting. 

Nothing could surpass the blank astonishment visi- 
ble in Mr. Cary's face. He did not endeavor to express 



188 THE EBONY IDOL. 

his emotions, but he did what he was in the habit of 
doing when language failed him — he whistled ! 

" I and Mr. Hobbs thought rayther queer on't at 
first, but there's no accountin' for the fancy of gals, and 
as I and Mr. Hobbs don't wish to blight Mary, we 
have given our consent." 

Mr. Cary continued to whistle. 

" I 'spect you'll have the privilege of jining on 
'em ; " Mrs. Hobbs went on smirking more and more. 
" I guess we shall have the weddin' in the meetin' 
housen, so to let folks see that we consider all men 
' free and equal ; ' for my part, I had jest as lief Mary 
would marry a nigger as to marry any body else, and I 
hold to folks livin' up to their profession, any how ! " 

" Really," said Mr. Cary, rubbing his hand slowly 
up and down over the nap of his broadcloth, " this is 
the most singular engagement I ever heard of! Mary 
is so young and inexperienced, that she probably does 
not realize the step she is about to take ; of course you 
are the best judge of what would promote her happi- 
ness, but if her fate cannot be averted, it at least should 
not be hastened by her friends ; she should have time 
to consider, and Caesar should be removed from her 
presence. It is a very singular instance of infatuation 
— very — singular — indeed ! " and Mr. Cary resumed his 
whistling ! 

Mrs. Hobbs' knitting-needles flew fast and furious ; 



THE EBONY IDOL. 189 

the wedding must precede the election, and the election 
was fluttering in the breeze of the New Year ! 

" I don't think it does any good to oppose gals ; 
when I and Mr. Hobbs was a-courtin', every word that 
was said agin him only made me stick the closer. I 
kinder reckoned you would be mighty tickled up with 
the match, Mr. Cary." 

Mr. Cary's surprise was renewed. 

" Thought I would be pleased with such an alliance, 
Mrs. Hobbs ? It seems to me the very reverse of being 
desirable. I do not object to Caesar's color — to the fact 
that he is a negro — that I know of ; but he is very un- 
cultivated, and is not a person in any respect to whom 
a young girl of Mary's delicate temperament could 
safely intrust her happiness. I would rather preach 
her funeral sermon than seal her as his wife." 

Mrs. Hobbs' knitting work fell from her hands as 
she fixed her eyes upon him full of amazement, the 
least bit tinged with indignation. 

" Well neow, if I don't gin it up ! Here you've 
been a-preachin' and preachin' an preachin' about our 
duty to our colored bretherin', and a-tellin' of us what 
we orter do to civilize 'em, and a-stirrin' on us up to all 
sorts of good works, and now, when we've got a breth- 
erin', and are willin' to treat him like a bretherin', you 
ups and sets your nose agin it ! Snooky ! " 

" But, my dear Madam, I never intended to convey 
any such ideas as you are practically drawing from my 



190 THE EBONY IDOL. 

instructions. I see no reason why the blacks and whites 
may not intermarry as well as all other nations, but I 
would have them first released from bondage, and made 
our equals intellectually and morally ! I would not en- 
courage a young, delicate-minded child like Mary to sac- 
rifice herself to an undue sympathy for Caesar's former 
oppression, and I see no other attraction that could 
have influenced her decision ! " 

" Wall ! I take folks exactly as they say, and you've 
said it a thousand times, that we orter treat a nigger 
as we would a white man, and that we orter marry 'em, 
and if we can't get 'em away from their masters any 
other way, we orter dissolve the Union, and set up on 
our own hook. I s'pose Csesar is a fair specimen ; at 
any rate, you've made fuss enough about gettin' him 
here, and now, when other people want to live up to 
your preachin', you want to back out ! S-n-o-o-k-y ! " 

This time Mr. Cary both whistled and stroked his 
broadcloth ; and a long pause followed, broken only by 
the clicking of the good dame's needles. It was easy 
to see explanations would but increase the misunder- 
standing, and Mr. Cary, after due reflection, interested 
himself in the success of her dairy. But Mrs. Hobbs 
was not so easily pacified, and the clergyman saw the 
propriety of beating a timely retreat. 

As he was passing the gate he observed Mary shrink- 
ing timidly behind a clump of lilacs, and stopped to 
address her. The girl came forth reluctantly, and it 



THE EBONY IDOL. 191 

was evident from her inflamed features that her tears 
had been freshly flowing. There was something, too, 
so forlorn and utterly dejected in her drooping figure 
and pale face, that the good man's heart smote- him, 
and he took her hand tenderly in his, and gazed silently 
and inquiringly into her tearful eyes. 

" My dear child," he said, sympathetically, " answer 
me truly, is it of your own free will that you encourage 
the rumored attentions of this man Caesar ? The en- 
gagement is so publicly spoken of that I cannot offend 
you, I am sure, by asking." 

Mary struggled to withdraw her hand, and her slight 
figure expanded with hauteur, as she said, scornfully, 

" And if I do, Mr. Cary, I am but living out the 
theories you have been laboring to inculcate ! " 

Mr. Cary sighed, but firmly retained her small hand 
in his. 

" Answer me, Mary — yes or no ? " 

The little touch of pride had vanished — the re- 
proachful sigh was rightly interpreted, and the poor 
girl bowed her fair head upon her pastor's hand, and 
gave way to an hysterical outbreak of tears and laugh- 
ter. 

" 'Tis so absurd," she said at last, when she could 
trust her voice, " to have you ask me such a question 
■ — you who have known me all my life. How could I 
tolerate such a " 



192 THE EBONY IDOL. 

Mary paused, while a shiver of disgust ran through 
her whole frame. 

" Who, then, has originated this repulsive report ? 
your mother even encourages it, and your father also ! " 

" I speak for myself, Mr. Cary ; so far as I am per- 
sonally concerned, I deny all that you may have heard ! 
My name is to be coupled with no person living, and I 
am sorry that my past life should not have refuted this 
scandal without the necessity of a denial." 

" Am I to understand, then, that this engagement 
has been encouraged by your foster-parents contrary to 
your wishes ? " 

"You are to understand nothing from me, Mr. 
Cary, more than I have already said ; and I beg you 
will not question me further ;" and the girl again strug- 
gled to withdraw her hand. 

The clergyman dropped it reluctantly. 

" I should be very glad, Mary, to serve you in any 
manner you could suggest, and so would my wife ; you 
would be heartily welcome at our house as long as you 
chose to remain there," he added, significantly ; " you 
may rely upon it, you have friends who will never see 
you sacrificed." 

Mary raised her blue eyes with a quick flash of 
gratitude, but beyond a simple " Thank you, sir," she 
remained silent. 

The clergyman lingered as if unwilling to depart, 
and yet uncertain what to say, when hearing the shrill 



THE EBONY IDOL. 193 

voice of Mrs. Hobbs from within, he invoked the bless- 
ing of Heaven upon the poor child and turned away. 

" What on arth are you and the minister talkin' 
about all of this time, Moll ? " asked Mrs. Hobbs, sus- 
piciously, appearing at the door ; " hey ? what was it, 
hussy?" 

" I thought clergymen always talked about religion," 
answered the girl, evasively. 

"It's mighty strange ministers never can talk to 
young gals without gettin' hold of their hands ! They 
can talk to old women fast enough without going across 
the room, but when a gal is in the case they work her 
over just like a lump of butter. They take her hand 
in their'n, and squeeze it, and pat it, and change it 
from one hand to the other, and squeeze it and pat it 
agin, and hang on for dear life like a dog to a bone ; but 
they wouldn't touch an old woman's hand no more than 
if it was pisin ! " 

" I suppose they used to work yours over, mother," 
Mary said, a little maliciously. 

" In course they did, and a despirit pretty hand I 
had, too — fat as butter, and as full of dimples as cher- 
ries are of stones," and Mrs. Hobbs extended two re- 
markably large, red and calloused palms for Mary's ad- 
miration. 

The least perceptible flitting of a smile played 
around the girl's lips, but she was silent, and turned 
away just in season to avoid David, who at this moment 
9 



194 THE EBONY IDOL. 

came through the gate. One glance of David's quick 
eye took in the different moods of the mother and child, 
but nothing daunted, he attacked the matron upon a 
point where most housewives are vulnerable, and which 
he was well aware would soon bring the good dame to 
surrender at discretion. 

" Mrs. Hobbs, I told aunt Julia to-day that she hadn't 
had any thing fit to eat in the house for a month, 
and I was just going over to Mrs. Hobbs' to tea, and 
have some of her doughnuts." 

" "Wall, I haint got nary doughnut to-night, so now 
you know ! " 

" Of course you haven't, but that is no reason we 
can't fry some," said David, selecting a soft place 
upon the grass, and relieving himself of three " som- 
ersets ; " "I came over on purpose in season to beat 
the eggs." 

" The fire is all out, and I aint a-going to make up 
no more fire to-night for nobody ! " 

" Of course you aint ; but I am, and I am going to 
make it up for Mrs. Hobbs, and Mrs. Hobbs and I are 
going to fry some doughnuts, and after we have tea, I 
have got something to say to Mrs. Hobbs in secret, and 
to nobody else but Mrs. Hobbs ; so here goes ! " and 
David turned six more somersaults, coming down plump 
upon a box of prickly pears, the sole house plant of the 
domain. 

" Snooky I " cried the irate Madam, boxing his ears 



THE EBONY IDOL. 195 

with her broad palm, " you are the crookedest stick, 
David, that ever an old maid brought up." 

" No twitting, Mrs. ! it isn't everybody that can 
bring up children as you can ! but if you want me to 
tell you what I've got to tell you, I advise you to hurry 
up those doughnuts." 

Mrs. Hobbs was evidently relenting. 

" You are the peskiest critter to come round a crit- 
ter, David, I ever did see. Go and make the fire, and 
then run out to the barn and hunt up some eggs ; I 
s'pose I may as well make 'em fust as last." 

Away went David upon his commission. 

"I've got it all cut and dried, Mary — only let me, 
get the old lady alone, and Csesar is done for ! " 

Mrs. Hobbs was cajoled into good humor. The 
doughnuts were, as David sentimentally declared, " all 
his fancy painted them," and when after tea David 
with great gallantry escorted Mrs. Hobbs into the par- 
lor, the amiable lady sat smoothing her apron, the pink 
of smiling expectancy. 

" Now, Mrs. Hobbs, I've got a plan into my head 
that I think will make our fortunes, and enable us to 
bring ourselves before the people — favorably, you un- 
derstand ; I mean in regard to Mr. Hobbs' election. 
Now I go in head over heels for Hobbs as second repre- 
sentative, and I am going to have him nominated, too. 
I want to see you the wife of a representative ! A wo- 
man that can make such doughnuts as you can, shan't 



196 THE EBONY IDOL. 

waste her sweetness on the desert air so long as I am 
by, now I tell you ! " 

David hitched his chair a little closer, and dropped 
his voice into a confidential undertone. 

" Now you see what we want is to make the people 
understand that you go in for the platform ! We want 
to make them understand that you regard all men as 
free and equal ! " 

Mrs. Hobbs winked approvingly. 

" Now, I thought that we might get up a lecture, 
giving an outline of Caesar's life and sufferings, and 
have him go round and deliver it. You see, after he 
had got through his ' experience,' he could manage to 
throw in some little compliments in regard to Mr. 
Hobbs' and your treatment of him, and it would go a 
tremendous ways in electioneering. In fact there's no 
end to what he might do in that line, if it was well 
managed. I thought I would speak to you about it, 
and if you approved of the plan, I would get up a lec- 
ture and go round with him, and see that he did it up 
brown. We would have an entrance fee of course, and 
as there hasn't been any negro lecturing up this way, it 
would go off with a rush. Why, it would be a fortune 
to us all ; the money would make a grand outfit for the 
wedding, and we will have it all out in print : 

" ' Married, at the bride's father's, Mr. Hobbs, second 
representative of Minden, Miss Mary Hobbs and Cae- 
sar, the late very distinguished colored gentleman, ex- 



THE EBONY IDOL. 197 

tensively known as an impressive and eloquent lecturer ! 
A liberal slice of the splendid bridal loaf, said to have 
been made by the bride's foster-mother, accompanied 
this notice, for which we return our sincere acknowl- 
edgments ! ' " • ■ 

David recited the above with such effect that Mrs. 
Hobbs' eyes fairly shone with delight. 

" Snooky ! " cried Madam, slapping her great 
hand upon the young man's shoulder approvingly, 
" you are some pumpkins arter all ! I tell you it is jest 
the ticket ! and you are jest the fellow to carry it 
through ! them's my opinion ! " 

" Well, I thought you would approve of it — in fact 
it's just the thing ! Now I'll get the lecture ready, and 
drill it into Csesar, and he shall deliver it right here in 
Minden first, so you can see the effect. Why, it would 
do more for Mr. Hobbs than all the stump-speaking we 
could get up ; and it won't cost any thing, you see — 
instead of paying out money, we shall be taking it in 
— and if you'll only keep your own counsel you shan't 
lack pin-money for one year, now that's certain ! " 

Nothing could exceed the good woman's enthusi- 
asm; she promised all that was desired, and David, 
after exchanging masonic tokens with Mary, took his 
leave. 



CHAPTEE XX. 

"If his title is good, 
The material within of small consequence is ; 
Let him only write fine, and if not understood, 
"Why, that's the concern of the reader— not his.'" 

Literary Advertisement. 

Squire Bryan - was nursing his lame foot in his easy 
chair, and whiffing upward the smoke of his Havana 
at the open window, when he espied in the twilight the 
roguish face of Miss Dickey's nephew. 

" Let me in, Squire, I've got a nut to crack ! " and 
placing his hand upon the window-sill the fellow leaped 
the barrier with a bound. 

" You would have made a splendid clown for some 
country circus, David. How happens it that you never 
received a call ? " 

" Well, I have gone into company now with the 
ghost of Don Quixote, and have entered upon my mis- 
sion of relieving young ladies who are to be married 
against their will, and as two heads are better than 
one, I have come to consult you. Every wise head 
wants a fool, you know ! I want you to write me a 
lecture ! " 



THE EBOlfV IDOL. 199 

Squire Bryan removed his segar, and gazed at David 
in mute astonishment, perceiving which the young man 
took up the thread of his adventures, and gave an out- 
line of the " experience " which he wished to have 
drawn up. 

" Spice it up high, Squire ! no wish-washy soup for 
my palate ! Make 'em all cry," cried David, rubbing 
his hands together gleefully ; " let them get their mo- 
ney's worth." 

" But I don't believe, David, that Caesar ever had 
a very rough experience. I never questioned him, but 
he looked remarkably sleek and well-fed when brought 
forward by your aunt Julia and Mr. Gary." 

" If you'll just strike a light, Squire, I'll give you 
the items," and David fumbled in his pocket-book for a 
memorandum ; " here they are, pretty much as I have 
heard Cassar tell them over at Glynn's tavern. I suppose 
we must stick to his old version, or the people might 
remember his former account of himself. Here is his 
description of the plantation and his master's family : 
first he was whipped — next he was roasted — then he 
was starved — next he was whipped again — then he was 
hung up by his thumbs and whipped — then he was 
roasted again ! " 

" For heaven's sake stop," cried the Squire, squirm- 
ing ; " what is the use of telling over such atrocities as 
these — you do not believe he ever suffered them, do 
you ? " 



200 THE EB&NY IDOL. 

" He don't pretend he ever did, that I know of ; but 
when he saw how the crowd enjoyed his experiences, 
it was natural he should make them as wonderful as he 
could. Beside, we want to get up a sensation." 

The Squire mused a moment. 

" Well, David, I do not think I had better write 
that lecture ; you can do it better than I could, and it 
might be brought up against me politically ; but if there 
is any thing else I can do for you, I will aid you with 
pleasure." 

David twirled his hat with some embarrassment. 

" I wish by and by, Squire, when the lecture is 
about being announced, that you would contrive to get 
Mary Hobbs over here, and take care of her. Unless 
I am greatly mistaken she leads a sorry life over there, 
and if some things take place about that time that I 
think may happen, it would be safe to have Mary out 
of harm's way." 

Squire Bryan looked keenly into David's face, but 
expressed no curiosity in regard to what might happen. 

" Mary shall be here safe and sound, David." 

" Do you hear from Stanton, Squire ? " asked Da- 
vid, after a long pause. 

" Oh, yes ; Frank is laying siege to beauty and an 
heiress." 

The sudden flush of gratified surprise that over- 
spread David's features did not escape the lawyer's eye, 
and he went on expatiating upon Frank's prospects ! 



THE EBONY IDOL. 201 

" I don't know why," said David, in a tone lie in- 
tended to be pre-eminently indifferent, " but I fancied 
there was some kind of an understanding between him 
and Mary ! " 

A new light flashed upon Squire Bryan's mind, and 
wheeling suddenly about he brought such a piercing 
gaze to bear upon the young man's face that David sat 
covered with blushes aud confusion. 

As Squire Bryan gazed, a series of trifles seemed sud- 
denly to have become illuminated ; David's evident in- 
terest in the pretty Mary — the delicate but commonplace 
attentions of Frank Stanton — his evident regret at leav- 
ing Minden, and the unfeigned disgust with which he 
received the mercenary summons to return home for the 
purpose of wooing and winning a wealthy bride — and 
the peculiarly plaintive tenderness with which in all his 
letters he had adverted to his Minden life as among the 
happiest hours he ever had known in the past, or could 
hope for in the future ! All this and much more went 
through the mind of the Squire, and he felt a momen- 
tary pang that his young friend had faithfully concealed 
at least one secret from his indulgent mentor ! 

" If," said the Squire, when his searching gaze was 
withdrawn, " Frank ever felt any unusual interest in 
Miss Mary, he must have been aware that his passion 
was hopeless, since nothing could induce his father to 
consent to that union. I know him of old, the very 
soul of family pride." 



202 THE EBONY IDOL. 

David breathed more freely, and when he shook 
hands with the Squire, he knew that his heart was laid 
bare before him, but he knew he would respect his se- 
cret. The Squire seemed to understand the confidence 
so silently expressed, and to respond to it with a more 
cordial clasp. 

" I have thought, David, you might be doing some- 
thing better for yourself than turning somersaults, and 
tending your aunt Julia's menagerie. It is time that 
you look the future steadily in the face, young man, 
and prepare to act well your part in the great drama 
of life." 

" I have been thinking of that myself," David said 
seriously ; " but I must take Caesar to his lectures now, 
and then farewell to folly ! " and with a low bow David 
withdrew. 

Squire Bryan smoked and cogitated, until, pressing 
the stump of his segar upon the window-sill, he hobbled 
away in search of his wife Nannie, whom he found in 
her little sewing room, in the deepening shade of the 
evening, gazing up toward the one bright star which 
seemed always associated with the memory of her lost 
children. 

He placed his hand tenderly upon her head, and sat 
down by her side, gazing out into the gathering dark- 
ness, and both were silent. 

By and by the moon came up, tipping with silver 
the fleecy clouds behind which she coquettishly veiled 



THE EBONY IDOL. 203 

her beauty ; and baptizing the whole landscape with 
loveliness. 

The husband gazed into the face of his wife ; a tear 
rested upon her cheek, but he knew it was the he.avenly 
dew of a loving and sanctified heart. 

" Nannie, my love," said the husband, taking her 
hand between both of his, " you are too much alone ; I 
think so often, but business absorbs me, and I neglect 
you. I have a little plan now, however, that I think 
will meet with your approval. Suppose we adopt Mary 
Hobbs ? " 

Nannie's face flushed half with pleasure and half 
with surprise. 

" But she is adopted, Horace. We could not think 
of taking her from her friends at this late period, when 
she is becoming a young lady, and will soon be settled 
in a home of her own." 

" Did it ever occur to you, Nannie, that an affection 
was springing up between Mary and Frank ? " 

Nannie was silent a little. 

"I used to think of such a thing, Horace, when 
Frank was so fond of talking about her, but I do not 
think it ever would have amounted to any thing." 

" Oh, no — how could it ? His father would have 
cut him off without a shilling ; and Mary is so young, 
she will forget him soon enough. It never seemed to me 
as if the child was very kindly treated there, and I know 
she was always a great favorite with you. Now, if 



204 THE EBONY IDOL. 

upon reflection you think you would like to have Mary 
in the family, I feel pretty confident I can bring it 
round. But you must understand that I have no par- 
ticular desire for it myself, only that I think it would 
be agreeable having her here, and you would be less 
alone when I am away." 

Nannie pressed his hand gratefully. 

" I am quite certain that I should love dearly to 
have Mary with me. She is unlike all young girls I 
ever met — so delicate, kind, generous, and intelligent ; 
she always seemed misplaced." 

" No doubt she is, and if, as it is said, Mr. and Mrs. 
Hobbs have endeavored to force this revolting marriage 
upon her, they have certainly sacrificed all claim to her 
upon the score of former kindnesses." 

" I never believed the report," said Nannie ; " it is 
true she went to church with Csesar, and was said to 
have allowed many freedoms from him, but all that 
might be for the purpose of keeping peace in the family. 
Mrs. Hobbs is so vulgar herself she would never per- 
ceive the indelicacy of such intercourse. I dare say 
the marriage would seem proper enough to her, and it 
would be proper enough if Mrs. Hobbs was the bride ! " 

As for David, he was already bending over the first 
literary production he had ever seriously attempted, 
and he was surprised to find how little difference there 
was between thinking and writing out his story. He 
remembered once, when he had been walking with 



THE EBONY IDOL. 205 

Frank Stanton, and had drawn some comparison be- 
tween Frank and himself, indicative of his consciousness 
that Frank was his superior, the young man had touched 
his arm and said energetically, "There now, David, 
never say that again ; you have more wit and shrewd 
good sense than any body I ever saw ! " 

Indeed, Frank more than once had spoken words of 
commendation that had settled down into David's 
heart, germinating for future harvest. Like Mary, Da- 
vid had beheld in him an ideal who unconsciously had 
exercised a mystic fascination over his uncultivated na- 
ture, and by his delicate, intuitive graces, awakened 
David to a sense of his own uncouthness through the 
strange contrast of their different personalities. 

Day and night David labored at his " experience," 
until a long, loud, triumphal shout, accompanied by a 
summersault, announced that the " finis " had been writ- 
ten. Caesar was summoned, and his oratorical educa- 
tion commenced. 

The description of the plantation was recited. 

" Dat fus'rate ! " cried Caesar, rolling his eyes ap- 
provingly. 

A description of his master followed. 

" Dat fus'rate too ! " 

The first whipping was given. 

" Dat more fus'rate dan todder ! " cried Csesar, grin- 
ning with delight, as he fancied the sensation that would 
follow the recital ! 



206 THE EBONY IDOL. 

The " roast " was given in detail. 

" Oh, Lor 5 Gor 'Mighty ! dem's punkins for sartin ! " 
yelled Caesar, cutting a pigeon's wing ; " dem's roast as 
is roast ! " 

The " starving scene " was in David's best style, 
and being a subject in regard to which Caesar was very 
sensitive, it very naturally drew tears to his eyes ; sat- 
isfied with the effect, David proceeded to the second 
whipping. 

Caesar's countenance brightened again. 

" Dem's um ! hit um agin ! Gosh ! guess de yaller 
gals pass round der hankerchiefs dis time, enny 
how ! " 

When David recited the " tying up by the thumbs," 
with the suitable flagellations, Caesar was beside him- 
self with delight. 

" Oh Lor', Massa David ! when dis chile take an 
attumtude, and 'scribes dat ar lickin', if de graby don' 
run den, Mass' Dave, guess 'twill be coz dey is short 
of de raw material ! yah ! yah ! yah ! yah ! yah ! " 

And so David went on reciting and Caesar approv- 
ing, until it came to what David called the " final blow- 
ing of trumpets ! " 

" Now Caesar, I've got to the last great flourish, and 
you must do this up brown ! Every lecturer winds up 
with a real ring-peal-snorter ! a sentence that sounds 
well, and puts the nub on ! Now you have told over 
all of your past life, and it can't be your fault if they 



THE EBONY IDOL. 207 

haven't had variety enough ; the audience will be bathed 
in tears of course ; so you must give them time to blow 
their noses and wipe up before they disperse. So to 
take the chill off, you must touch upon your reception 
at the North ! You needn't mind Mr. Cary, nor Aunt 
Julia, but when you come to Mr. and Mrs. Hobbs, then 
go it ! You must turn round to where they are sitting, 
and extend your hand toward them in this way, as you 
say, 

" ' But how shall I express the gratitude that swells 
in my bosom at the recollection of these, my best, my 
dearest, my honored friends who have received me into 
the bosom of their family, given me a seat at their 
bountiful board — who have honored me with their 
friendship, and intrusted the happiness of their daugh- 
ter to my keeping ! ' 

" Here, Csesar, I think you had better pull out your 
handkerchief and weep. It will be white, you know, 
and it will be very affecting. When you think you 
have cried enough, you can sniff once or twice pretty 
hard, to let them know you have got through, and go 
on in this way : 

" l Pardon my emotion, ladies and gentlemen ; such 
kindness as theirs would melt the heart of a stone ! 
And I mention it that you may see that if you think 
proper to elect him as second representative, you will 
be certain to elect a man who is true to his political 
platform, and who does not preach one thing and prac- 



208 the EBomr idol. 

tise another ! May he flourish like a green bay tree, 
and may his shadow never be less ' " 

" Dem's what dis 'ere chile calls eloquence ! " cried 
Caesar, applying both hands to the lower regions of his 
stomach with an air of great sentiment ! 

" Yes — siree, sir ! " said David. " If they can stand 
that, they had better be given over to hardness of 
heart ! " 

Although Caesar so fully appreciated the intellectual 
beauties of his prospective lecture, he was by no means 
so enthusiastic in transferring the items to his own stu- 
pid brain. David's patience was sorely tried when he 
found Caesar falling asleep day after day over his own 
sufferings, and growing suddenly oblivious where his 
tortures should have been keenest. Indeed, when left 
to his own recital, he mixed the whippings, and roast- 
ings, and starvations, up into such an unintelligible jar- 
gon, that David well-nigh threw his literary bantling 
to the flames in disgust ! But David bethought him 
of Caesar's favorite drink, which placing upon the table 
beside him, so stimulated our hero's exertions that after 
two weeks' drilling Caesar's lecture was announced as 
ready for delivery. 

All Minden was by this time in a high state of ex- 
pectancy. The public prejudice which had so severely 
passed judgment upon the love-passage in poor Mary's 
life had slowly been 'turning in her favor. It came to 
be rumored that Mary had received Caesar's attentions 



THE EBOOT IDOL. 209 

from no otlier reason than through fear of her foster- 
parents, and that they were forcing this marriage upon 
her for the furtherance of political aspirations. The 
widowers and admiring young men were zealous in 
her defence, while that particular class designated by 
Saxe as the " very married men," muttered out their 
indignation more loudly in proportion as the square of 
distance increased between themselves and their better- 
halves, and insinuated that tar and feathers was too 
good for so dastardly a schemer as Hobbs. 

There were loud threats of mobbing the lecturer, 
and of tearing down the church if it was opened for the 
occasion of the lecture ! Mr. Cary was hung in effigy 
upon his own lightning-rod, while the fair Miss Dickey 
was seated in her Reception robes by proxy upon the 
top of the liberty-pole ! Mr. and Mrs. Hobbs were 
burnt at the stake in the full blaze of a bonfire of pine 
shavings, and Cgesar himself was represented by a lay 
figure setting out in a literary career upon a spiked 
rail ! 

Even the children formed themselves into parties, 
and pitched into each other in defence of the paternal 
platform, until bloody noses and blackened eyes were 
abundant, and every mamma could boast of her " youth 
with the open countenance ! " 

Suddenly the excitement subsided. The church 
door was thrown wide open, and jammed to its ut- 
most capacity upon the occasion of the lecture. Mr. 



210 



THE EBONY IDOL. 



r'~ v >£, 



Caiy was there, though his zeal had evidently abated 

since his domestic experience with the lecturer ; but 

then it was necessary to live up to his own teachings ; 

and he was ex- 
pected to open the 
exercises with 
prayer. The fair 
Julia was there, 
fixing her Medu- 
sa-like gaze upon 
Caesar's sable face 
with an acidity of 
expression most 
edifying to behold. 
Mr. Johnson 
and his inestima- 
ble lady were pres- 
ent also. Mr. 
Johnson was upon 
the platform, Mrs. 

Johnson very conspicuously seated in front. 

Squire Bryan and Nannie, with Mary Hobbs, who 

had been engaged to assist Nannie in her sewing that 

week, formed a little group at the right. 

Mrs. Kimball was near them. Mr. and Mrs. Smith 

also, who all seemed intent upon enjoying the occasion. 
Indeed, everybody was there who could get there, 

and David, who took the silver bits at the door, well- 




THE EBONY IDOL. 211 

nigh turned a " somerset" upon the hall floor, so excited 
was he with the pecuniary success ! 

Caesar, whose personal estimation of himself was by- 
no means diminished by his present position, ascended 
the rostrum with an air that would have eclipsed the 
most aspiring of our youthful politicians ! As Minden 
had not been initiated into the mysteries of " claquers," 
the sable orator was received " as might have been ex- 
pected." There was a wonderful shuffling of calf-skin 
boots, flabby slappings of bare hands, with groans and 
hisses in the background. Preliminaries over, Caesar, 
who had been drilled and stimulated into a tolerable re- 
tentiveness of his sufferings, rehearsed his history with a 
hesitation and naivete which, judging from the tears 
that were shed, melted the hearts of the audience ; but 
the final flourish of rhetoric, where, turning to Mr. and 
Mrs. Hobbs, he poured forth his feelings, produced an 
effect entirely the reverse of that which the amiable 
couple had anticipated. 

Cries of " Shame ! Shame ! " burst from all sides of 
the house, mingled with most emphatic denunciations 
at the allusion to the intended union. Squire Bryan re- 
tired with Mary upon his arm, and the moment the 
door closed behind them, such a yell of execration went 
up as never was heard in Minden. 

Caesar, not exactly comprehending the tumult, and 
already intoxicated with the evening's success, being 
spurred on by the villainous David, who was prompting 



& 



212 THE EBONY IDOL. 

him from behind, and urging him on to his destruction, 
thought proper to improvise a few expressions upon his 
own responsibility ! Mr. Hobbs' political rivals now 
scented the game, and the confusion increased, until the 
ladies retired with precipitancy, and the meeting was 
quite broken up. Caesar was spirited away by the in- 
defatigable David to Glynn's Hotel, where he was 
made to forget his disastrous debut by generous whiskey- 
skins and potations of eau-de-vie-de-sucre ! Placing 
him under lock and key, ostensibly to secure his safety, 
David left him to the enjoyment of his potations, and 
a lecturer's eclat ! 



CHAPTEE XXI. 



" No more could boast on Plato's plan, 
To rank among the race of man, 
Or prove his claim to human nature 
As a two-legged, unfeathered creature. 1 ' — McFingal. 



The good people of Minden were already yielding 
themselves to the sweeter influences of night, and Mrs. 
Hobbs was herself tying the strings of her cotton cap, 
when a knock at the outer door of her home attracted 
attention. 

" "Who's there ? " asked the dame, raising the win- 
dow, and projecting her unattractive physiognomy for 
the intruder's admiration. 

" I wish to speak with Mr. Hobbs a minute ; is he 
in?" 

" "Wall, he won't be out, I reckon, this time o' 
night ! Here — H-o-b-b-s — you ! don't you hear ? you're 
wanted." 

Mr. Hobbs, in a state of extreme dishabille, became 
visible by the side of his partner. 

"What's wanted ? " 



214 THE EBONY IDOL. 

" I wish to speak with you upon very urgent busi- 
ness. I am sorry to disturb you at this late hour, but 
it concerns your interests more than mine." 

The window closed, and after a little delay, Mr. 
Hobbs appeared at the door. 

" Have the kindness to step this way, as it is neces- 
sary to maintain the greatest secrecy." 

The unsophisticated aspirant for the second repre- 
sentativeship rounded the corner of the farm-house, and 
found himself surrounded by a group of disguised men, 
the leader of whom promptly advanced, and laying his 
hand upon our friend's shoulder, exclaimed, 

" Mr. Hobbs, you are our prisoner. The first sound 
that passes your lips will be the signal for violence ; 
follow us quietly, and you are safe." 

Quaking with terror, Mr. Hobbs resigned himself 
to his captors, and the dark mass closing in upon him, 
he was escorted with military tread and the ominous 
beat of a muffled drum to a retired nook by the river 
side, where the party falling upon the right and left, 
allowed the prisoner the range of the column. 

" Now, sir," demanded the leader, " you will please 
to answer the questions put to you in a distinct voice." 

" Do you design to marry your adopted daughter, 
Mary Hobbs, to this negro, known by the name of Cse- 
sar?" 

" I have nothing to do about it," sniffled the pris- 
oner, " Mary is going to marry him herself." 



THE EBONY IDOL. 215 

" Do you approve of this marriage, and have you 
encouraged his attentions ? " 

" Wall, I can't say but what I have," whined 
Hobbs. 

" Sir, you can but be aware that this union is abhor- 
rent to every feeling of humanity ! Had this young girl 
been your own daughter, you would have sacrificed 
your life before you would have seen her the wife 
of such a man ! It is known to us that you designed to 
enforce this marriage because you fancied it would pro- 
mote your political advancement ! You would sacrifice 
this helpless girl for your ambition, and because she 
had no natural protectors, you fancied your fellow-citi- 
zens would stand coldly by while your design was con- 
summated. Behold your mistake, sir ! You have been 
tried by a self-elected jury, both within and without 
your political party, and they have decided to cool your 
abolition fury in a manner that will not fail to do it ef- 
fectually. The remedy will now be put to the test ! 
Gentlemen, do your duty ! " 

Grim, and dark, and stern, the two men nearest the 
prisoner silently advanced, at whose approach Mr. 
Hobbs fell upon his knees, and roared lustily for pro- 
tection. " He had a right to do what he chose with a 
child who had been a great trouble and expense to 
him!" 

Cries of " No ! no ! " 

" He was a defenceless, unarmed man, torn from 



216 THE EBONY IDOL. 

Mrs. Hobbs' arms at the dead of night, and it was a 
dastardly act to entice him there by false representa- 
tions, to misuse him ! " 

The ominous sternness with which silence was com- 
manded convinced the prisoner he had nothing to hope 
from their clemency or his own rhetoric. Very delib- 
erately his not numerous garments were removed, until 
the poor victim stood shivering in the night air, naked. 

" Gentlemen, you will please to abate this man's po- 
litical aspirations by a series of cold-water baths. Ad- 
vance ! One — two — are you ready ? Three ! " 

" For heaven's sake," screamed Hobbs, cutting a se- 
ries of pigeon's wings with an abandon that would have 
shamed the divine Ellsler, " don't put me into the water 
this time of night. I have had the rheumatiz awful, 
and it will be the death of me, sartin. Dear gentlemen, 
for God's sake, don't ! " 

Mr. Hobbs was lifted from his kneeling posture, and 
like Mahomet's coffin swayed between the heavens and 
earth, struggling and foaming like a hydrophobiac in 
his final agonies. It was but an instant, however — 
down went the practical amalgamist, and the water 
closed over him ! 

" Will you denounce this marriage publicly, and 
allow your daughter to go free? " asked the judge, as 
Hobbs appeared once more upon the surface, and de- 
spite his desperate exertions, remained suspended above 
the stream. 



THE EBONY IDOL. 217 

" No ! " muttered the man, with his mouth full of 
water, now thoroughly aroused, " I have as much right 
to my opinions as you have to yours ! " 

Souse ! and the water slowly gurgled over him ! 

"'Will you now renounce ? " 

" Dip me like a tallow candle, and be damned to 
you ! " sputtered the recipient ; " I " 

Souse ! and this time there was a slight pause 
before the second representative reascended. 

" Mr. Hobbs, you are now asked for the third and 
last time ; will you renounce ? " 

There was no answer. 

" Speak ! " 

No answer. 

" Gentlemen, do your duty — three times three ! " 

As Hobbs felt the grasp upon him renewed with an 
earnestness that bespoke no leniency in the executioner, 
and felt himself taking his aerial equipoise, as destitute 
of any terrestrial support as Pegasus himself, it is not 
to be wondered at that ambition oozed as rapidly from 
his soul as the water had done from his nose and ears. 

^ For (Jod's sake, gentlemen, let me go ; I will 
promise any thing." 

" Let the gentleman be heard," was the order, and 
Mr. Hobbs was placed upon his feet. Somebody has 
said that " Man was only brave in his boots ; 1? certain 
it is that Hobbs was fast losing his courage out of 
them ! His teeth chattered like a dice-box. 
10 



218 THE EBONY IDOL. 

" Dear gentlemen, only let me put on my clothes ! 
What will Miss Hobbs say ! " 

The judge was moved to pity, and Hobbs slipped 
into his attire vastly more rapidly than he had come 
out of it ! 

" Cold water baths agree with you wonderfully, sir," 
cried the judge, cruelly ! " You are more active by 
far than when you disrobed. Gentlemen, apply the 
matches ! " 

As if by magic a bright flame flashed out, revealing 
to the shivering Hobbs the preparations for a fate more 
to be dreaded than bathing by starlight. 

" The prisoner will please take his position by the 
fire, and answer the following questions : 

" Do you now renounce your amalgamation theories 
for all coming time ? " 

" I do," muttered the victim, sullenly. 

" Speak up, sir, your intonation is suspicious ! " 

"'I do ! " and this time Hobbs jerked it out with a 
will. 

" Gentlemen, stir the tar ! Mr. Hobbs, we prefer 
more euphony of speech. As an office-seeker you are 
deficient in elocution. "Will you now renounce ? " 

" I do ! " whimpered Hobbs, blandly. 

" Will you also renounce all claims upon Mary as 
your adopted daughter, leaving her at liberty to act 
and provide for herself without molestation from your- 
self or family from this time henceforth and forever ? " 



THE EBONY IDOL. 219 

" I Will." 

" Mr. Hobbs, you have decided wisely, and we sol- 
emnly adjure you to adhere to these resolutions, since 
for any departure from them you will be called to the 
strictest account by these, your fellow-citizens and jury, 
whose vigilance will follow you from this hour for- 
ward ! It now becomes our painful duty to announce 
to you, that because you have forgotten to protect the fa- 
therless, and have oppressed the orphan, and outraged 
every law of manhood and decency in your conduct, 
the severest penalty of the Lynch law will be inflicted 
upon you, both as a punishment for the past and a 
healthy admonition for the future ; that should you 
again be tempted to oppress the weak, the remem- 
brances of this hour may the better enable you to re- 
sist. One — two — gentlemen, are you ready ? " 

" Oh dear — dear — dear!" blubbered Hobbs, now 
humbled in good earnest ; " you've killed me eny jest 
as it is ! I wish Miss Hobbs was here. Jest go on and 
kill me outright, and then you'll be hanged, and that 
will be some consolation, eny how ! Only I should like 
to take leave of Miss Hobbs ! " 

" Gentlemen, we will sing {sub voce) the hymn 
commencing with the line, 

" * Hark from the tombs a doleful sound 1 ' 

Mr. Hobbs, you will please give us the pitch." 

" A pretty time to ask a fellow to sing," cried 



220 THE EBONY IDOL. 

Hobbs, his voice indignantly acknowledging the in- 
sult. 

" Gentlemen, is the tar of proper heat and consist- 
ency ? Untie the feathers. Mr. Hobbs, we are wait- 
ing for the pitch — now, sir ! " 

There was evidently no alternative, and poor Hobbs 
struck up in a shaky minor, the dolorous notes in which 
all joined with sepulchral voices, rendered tenfold hide- 
ous by the lurid flames, and the mysterious black masks 
^of his tormentors. Mr. Hobbs' voice failed in the third 
line. 

" Gentlemen, do your duty. One ! two ! are you 
ready ? " 

Down went the poor victim, not only upon his 
knees, but his hands, while every portion of his body 
that could be twisted into supplication was pressed into 
duty. 

" Oh gentlemen ! dear, dear gentlemen ! only jest 
think of your own wives at home, and how they would 
feel and take on if you were served in this 'ere way ! 
It will break Miss Hobbs' heart sartin as the world ! 
Boo— oo ! " 

A gag adroitly stifled the affectionate husband's 
grief. Once more his coat was removed and his limbs . 
bared. 

" Now, gentlemen, arrange this man's toilet to the 
very best of your abilities ; see that you have an eye to 



THE EBONY IDOL. 221 

Miss Hobbs' gratification ! Suggestions from the crowd 
gratefully received ! " 

" Give him a moustache," cries one. 

" Touch up his whiskers," suggests another. . 

" Don't forget an imperial ! " 

" His eyebows are too thin ! " cries another. 

" Ah ! 6 What a beauty I did grow ! ' " murmured 
a voice. 

" The gentleman is shivering ; put on his mittens ! " 

" That's a capital fit ! " 

" Equal to those Miss Hobbs knits ? hey ? " 

" Put on his coat." 

" Make it thick and warm, so he won't have the 
rheumatiz ! " 

" Does it feel easy around the arms ? " 

" How do you like your tailor ? " 

" Any alterations to suggest ? " 

" We solicit a continuance of your patronage ! " 

" Will you have it a frock, a jacket, or a swallow- 
tail ? " 

" Or a < long-tailed blue ? ' " 

" Now let us have on his stockings and shoes ! " 

" What would the gentleman be measured for ? " 

" Make them long-heeled ! " 

a Give him some long stockings with silver 
buckles ! " 

" Put him on some pumps, and let him dance us a 
reel." 



222 THE EBONY IDOL. 

" There's a pair warranted not to stick. Now let 
us see you < trip tlie light fantastic toe.' " 

" Don't be bashful— show your agility ! " 

" Mr. Hobbs," ruled the judge, " you will please 
favor us tvith a hornpipe ! " 

" I can't dance ! upon my honor I can't," cried 
Hobbs, plaintively ; " I really wish I could ! " 

" Will you excuse him, gentlemen ? " 

" We really beg his pardon, but if he would only 
try, we are sure he would do it to our entire satisfac- 
tion." 

" Mr. Hobbs, you will dance ! " 

But Mr. Hobbs " would not dance — cuss 'em ! " 

" Gentlemen, apply the cat-o'-nine-tails ! " 

" Now, then ! " cried Hobbs, despairingly ; and if 
all the extravaganzas in the dance of Macbeth's witches 
were combined in one, that one could not hope to dim 
the lustre of Hobbs' impromptu performance. It was 
received with loud acclaims, which having subsided, 
the judge thus addressed him : 

" Mr. Hobbs, we have now performed our duty, as 
you must be conscious, at great sacrifices to our per- 
sonal comfort. We do not expect any remuneration 
for our services, but we should be happy to know that 
you appreciate our efforts. Tou will therefore return 
thanks to these gentlemen who have labored so zeal- 
ously in your behalf. The night is advancing, and as 
Mrs. Hobbs must naturally feel solicitous for your re- 



THE EBONY IDOL. 223 

turn, you will do well to express yourself as expedi- 
tiously and briefly as possible." 

Mr. Hobbs hesitated, but upon some one accident- 
ally bringing the cat-o'-nine-tails to view, his reluetancy 
vanished. 

" I thank you, gentlemen, and hope in time to have 
the pleasure of returning the favor, which you may be 
sure I shall do with hearty good-will." 

" That is very well said, Mr. Hobbs, and in return 
let me assure you, in the behalf of these gentlemen, that 
you are most cordially welcome, and that we shall "be 
extremely happy to renew your obligations upon a rep- 
etition of this or any similar outrage upon the laws of 
good citizenship." 

The sentence was yet unfinished, when loud, pro- 
longed, and almost unearthly shrieks announced the 
approach of the lone, lorn woman, who having awaited 
the return of her liege lord in vain, had sallied out, 
notwithstanding the lateness of the hour, in pursuit of 
him. 

" Hobbs ! H-o-bbs ! Meester Hobbs ! " And so, 
panting and screeching, the good matron arrived at the 
scene of action, guided by the dying embers of the re- 
cent flames, and the glad response of her now feathered 
mate ! 

Mrs. Hobbs gazed upon him by the uncertain light 
of stars and embers, until the truth dawned upon her 



224 THE EBONY IDOL. 

understanding, and then with one loud snort raised her 
conjugal lament ! 

" Snooky ! Sno-o-ky ! "What under heavens and 
arth " 

" Hold your confounded tongue, and help me out 
of this muss, won't you ? " cried the second representa- 
tive ! "This comes of your wanting to be a represent- 
ative's wife ! What did you get me out here this 
time of night, to be tarred and feathered for ? Answer 
me that, Madam ! " 

' And Hobbs, glad to have things all in his own way, 
shook his fist defiantly at his better-half. 

" I got you out ! Snooky ! That's the way with 
you men the world over ! no matter what turns up, it 
is all laid upon the shoulders of us ! I allers told you 
jest what it would come to ! I allers told you you 
would get tarred and feathered, and now you've got 
fixed so I guess you'll stick to the platform without eny 
urging ! Jest as if I wanted to be a representative's 
wife ! Didn't I know 'twant any use ' wanting ' when 
I had got sich a fool for my husband ? Snooky ! " 

Here Mrs. Hobbs' indignation got the better of her 
eloquence, and she was silent for no other reason than 
because she couldn't speak ! 

The satisfaction of mutual recrimination having sub- 
sided, the couple very naturally resolved themselves 
into a committee of investigation, to decide upon the 
ways and means of extricating the newly-fledged aspir- 



THE EBONY IDOL. 225 

ant from his rather unbecoming ornamentals. As at 
the very first sound of Mrs. Hobbs' voice, every man 
had vanished as silently as if the earth had received 
him, the wife alone made very little progress in remov- 
ing the evil. Every fresh attempt was met with re- 
newed anathemas, until, not knowing exactly what was 
best to be done, they concluded, as many an innocent 
has done before them, they would flee for shelter to the 
Law ! Behold, then, this amiable couple in pursuit of 
justice ! Mrs. Hobbs, with her good man's cast-off ap- 
parel upon her arms, strode before ; while her white 
cloth cap, which had been overlooked in her conjugal 
anxiety, constituted a kind of guide to her more tardy 
follower ; just as the glow-worm practically lights a 
lover, the only difference being in the antipodes of the 
attraction ! The shadows of the wee sma' hours envel- 
oped the cottage of Squire Bryan, and profound silence 
reigned within and without. But nothing daunted, the 
worthy couple vowed they would not sleep upon their 
wrongs. Mrs. Hobbs labored violently at the door- 
bell, while her husband applied his knuckles to the 
panels ! 

The echoes alone answered to their unceremonious 
callings. The wire had broken in the effort, and the 
feathers upon the good man's knuckles had been trans- 
ferred to the outer door. There was a slow shuffle 
within, and the premonitory query of " Who's there ? " 
most ungraciously growled forth. 
10* 



226 THE EBONY IDOL. 

"Ie! " cried Hobbs. 

" Us ! " cried the wife. 

" Who ? " 

" Friends," cried both voices at once. 

The door opened cautiously, but instantly was closed, 
as if from alarm. 

" Let us in," cried Hobbs, choking with anger, " I 
want justice ! " 

" We want justice ! " echoed the wife. 

" But who the deuce are you ? " 

" If you never let us in, you never will find out ! 
them's my opinion ! " cried the testy Madam, renewing 
her tattoo upon the door panels, tnis time rendered em- 
phatic by sundry kicks with her uncelestial feet ! 

" Surely I ought to recognise those dulcet tones," 
cried the now gallant lawyer, opening the door to its 
fullest detent ; " is it possible I can be honored with a 
visit from Mrs. Hobbs at this unusual hour ? Walk in, 
neighbors, walk in ! " 

" Squire Bryan," cried Mr. Hobbs, whose feet ad- 
hered tenaciously to the threshold, " look at me ! 
Won't you just have the kindness to look at me ? " 

" Certainly, sir, with the greatest pleasure," returned 
the limb-of-the-law, advancing so as to throw the light 
of his night-lamp upon his visitor's plumage. 

As the Squire gazed upon him with a comical ex- 
pression, passing his night-lamp slowly up and down, 
and d&wn and up, as if to make sure of his man, the 



THE EBON if IDOL. 227 

poor victim of Lynch law stood gnashing his teeth with 
impatience, brimful of ire ! 



" Well," he at last blurted out, * what do you 
think?" 

" I should say, Mr. Hobbs, that you had been in 
bad company I " 

•' Say be damned ! " cried the man, wrathfully ; u I 
tell you I want justice ! " 

" I should say, Mr. Hobbs, that you had got it ! " 



228 THE EBONY IDOL. 

" We want them villains arrested to-night, before 
they make their escape ! " shouted Madam. " ' What's 
sass for goose is sass for gander,' and we'll teach 'em to 
seduce us at this time of night away from our housen, 
to be treated in this 'ere way ! " 

" Madam, I shall be happy to serve you ; what 
would you like me to do ? " 

" That is jest what we came to find out ; if we had 
know'd what to do, we should have did it, I reckon, 
without trying to raise dead folks ! " 

" I want you to arrest the perpetrators of this foul 
deed," cried Hobbs, solemnly. 

" Fowl enough ! but who are they ? " 

"How do you suppose I know?" cried Hobbs, 
stamping with impatience, " every man of them had 
on black masks." 

" Did you recognize their voices ? " 

" No ; their mouths were filled with sunthin' or 
other ! I couldn't guess at one of them." 

" Then I do not understand how you can arrest any 
one. Your best way is to go home and arrange your 
toilet as speedily as possible ; give out that you are 
sick for a few days, keep your own counsel, and let the 
thing drop. You see, Mr. Hobbs, if the story gets over 
the neighborhood that you have been tarred and feath- 
ered, there will be no end to the jokes that will be 
cracked at your expense." 



THE EBONY IDOL. 229 

The amiable couple hesitated. It was evident they 
were sighing for the poultice of the law. 

" Probably," Squire Bryan continued, " the offending 
party have arranged to avoid detection, and you would 
only have the sorry consolation of making the affair 
public, and paying your own costs. As it is, you had 
better pay me a five dollar bill, and get home as fast as 
you can ! " 

Here was a clincher ! It had never occurred to our 
friends that justice must be paid for ! 

" It's pretty hard for a man to be obleeged to pay 
five dollars for being tarred and feathered," whined 
Hobbs. 

" Them's my opinion ! " snorted Madam. 

" I live by my profession, Mr. Hobbs ; that would 
be but a small part of what I should charge you, if I 
acceded to your unreasonable wishes. However, if you 
insist, I will proceed to obtain justice for you to the 
best of my ability. But you cannot expect me, who, 
as y6u know was abed and asleep, to know more of the 
rascals than you, who had such occasion to remember 
them." 

Mr. Hobbs looked thoughtfully at his wife, and Mrs. 
Hobbs looked indignantly at her husband. 

" Miss Hobbs, what is best to be did ? " 

Mrs. Hobbs slowly extracted the old leather wallet 
from her husband's pocket, and placed it in his hand, 
her eyes flashing fire. 



230 THE EBONY IDOL. 

" Pay him the five dollars, Hobbs. I could have 
bought a whole feather bed for what this little mess has 
cost you ! Snooky ! " 

Hobbs groaned, but extracted the bill, which then 
and there changed owners. 

" I guess we'll go home ! " shouted Madam, facing 
about, and readjusting her husband's broadcloth upon 
her arms. 

Mr. Hobbs raised one foot slowly, then the other, 
and muttering low thunder, followed after. 

Squire Bryan held the little night-lamp far out into 
the darkness. 

" Mrs. Hobbs, just take my advice ; put a comb on 
to your husband's head, and sell him for a new kind of 
Shanghai ! If I can be of any further service to you, 
do not fail to call upon me. I beg you will excuse my 
not hearing you sooner 

" As so gently you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door 1 " 

A pair of eyes of phosphoric lustre gleamed back 
out of the darkness, and a mass of muscle and knuckles 
shook, invoking vengeance ! when again the cotton 
cap was lifted up like the serpent in the wilderness, and 
our amiable couple set out upon their return from the 
pursuit of justice. 



CHAPTEE XXII. 

The little foxes that spoil the vines.— Song of Solomon. 

Notwithstanding that Mr. Hobbs was reported to 
be confined to his house with rheumatism, and that 
Squire Bryan's five dollars' worth of advice was acted 
upon to the letter, the whole neighborhood was posted 
in the minutiae of the lynching before the second day's 
sunrise ! What consternation ensued ! Minden was 
like the hero of the olden tale, who laughed with one 
side of his face while he wept with the other ! The one 
party held its sides with laughter, while the other 
seized upon the occasion to elevate the sufferer upon 
the shoulders of its enthusiasm, and ring his praises as 
a martyr to liberty ! There was no end to the " sym- 
pathy" manifested for the no longer insignificant 
Hobbs ; but a cloud was stealing up from a direction 
little regarded, of which it becomes the historian's duty 
to make mention. 

In all communities, and we might say churches, 
there is to be found one or more unfortunate individuals 



232 THE EBONY IDOL. 

whose sole delight seems to consist in pecking at the 
weaknesses of their neighbors; digging up, searching 
out, and dragging before the world such little sins as 
seem to be the fruits of our " natural depravity," rather 
than to originate in any intention of evil. 

Deacon Curious was the bane of Minden. "With 
what seemed to be the very best of intentions, he went 
about from morning until night sowing the seed of dis- 
cord throughout the neighborhood. He " felt it to be 
his duty " to listen to all the village gossip, and retail 
it, because he seemed to hope to find some relief in get- 
ting other people's opinion about it ! He was exceed- 
ingly given to groaning when his friends' foibles were 
spoken of, and exclaiming in a very sepulchral tone, 
" The Lord have mercy upon all sinners ! " 

The poor old deacon was a little deaf withal, and if 
there was any one word the misconstruction of which 
would entirely change the meaning of the sentence, the 
deacon's ears were sure to trip in hearing, and he would 
directly start upon his errand of mercy, and give no 
rest to the sole of his foot until every family had been 
edified with his groanings. 

Beside these qualifications for a nuisance, he had 
the happy knack of being exactly upon the spot where 
he wasn't wanted ! If a brother or sister in the church 
yielded to but one weakness in their life, Deacon Curi- 
ous was just as certain to be upon the spot in season to 
get the worst view of it, as the sun was to set upon their 



THE EBONY IDOL. 233 

repentance. It was this rare talent that sent the dea- 
con abroad upon the very unseasonable hour of the 
lynching, and brought him to be an ear-witness to 
the soul-harrowing fact that " Brother Hobbs • was 
guilty of using profane language " upon that painful 
occasion. He had been returning from a charitable 
visit to a sick relative, and happened to come upon the 
party in the very act of immersing the victim. lie had 
distinctly heard Brother Hobbs say, " cuss 'em," and 
the old man's lips quivered with holy horror when he 
affirmed that he had also said " damn ! " 

It was in vain Mr. Cary urged the extremity of the 
occasion, and suggested that doubtless under the excite- 
ment of the indignity, Brother Hobbs had been tempted 
to express himself in unusual terms, which he himself 
would condemn upon reflection. The good deacon 
could not be pacified ; " his soul was harrowed up for 
his brother," and nothing but a church meeting could 
give him relief. And so the brethren were requested 
to assemble, and Deacon Curious was duly confronted 
with Brother Hobbs. The deacon groaned, and his 
brother confessed ; but this trivial thing fired the train 
' that ultimately rent the Minden church asunder ! 

Deacon Curious was politically neutral, no party 
being " good enough to receive his vote." But unfor- 
tunately the church was political as well as religious, 
and amid this inflammable refuse of sin was concealed 



234 THE EBONY IDOL. 

the slow trail that communicated the spark to the 
magazine. 

The brethren not in political fellowship with Broth- 
er Hobbs insisted that bathing by starlight was by no 
means a sufficient excuse for profanity, and that if he 
had not been in the habit of indulging in that sin se- 
cretly, he could not possibly twice have been thrown 
off his guard. Beside, he had " set an awful example 
before the sinners who were present, and thereby 
brought a reproach upon the cause he professed ;" and 
" therefore tJiey moved that Brother Hobbs be sus- 
pended from communionship." 

Mr. Cary and his friends immediately uttered their 
protest, and a war of words was at once commenced, as 
memorable in Minden as the war of roses. Every thing 
that rancor, malice, and bitterness could suggest, was 
hurled from one brother to the other, until it was very 
evident if " Bedlam had not broken loose," some- 
thing equally disastrous to good fellowship was abroad 
in the church. 

It was no longer the question of profanity that agi- 
tated the fold ; it was which political party should carry 
its point ! One member after another seceded, and in 
order to testify to their steadfastness, services were 
opened in a school-house, and after a few weeks the new 
church invited a young pastor from abroad to rule over 
them. Unfortunately for Mr. Cary, the dissatisfied 
parties had been his monied parishioners, and he found 



THE EBONY IDOL. 235 

that although he had succeeded in " arousing his peo- 
ple," he had also succeeded in demolishing his church, 
and reducing his salary to a pecuniary zero, that yield- 
ed no adequate return for his time and labors. His little 
flock grew cold and listless ; indeed, so intent were both 
societies upon annoying each other, that they had no sur- 
plus zeal to expend upon religion. The ladies dressed 
to rival each other ; the gentlemen commenced erecting 
a new church destined to eclipse the old. Church sec- 
ond gave brilliant parties for the express purpose of 
not inviting the first ! Church second even raised a 
subscription for an organ, and insinuated that church 
first might continue to " fiddle and sing ! " 

Church first invited a brilliant clergyman from 
abroad to come to Minden, and preach an annihilating 
sermon at church second, which they voted to have 
printed and distributed among the former members of 
the church. 

Church first also appointed a day of fasting and 
prayer, that church second might repent of its manifold 
sins ! 

They had rival sewing societies — rival "Washing- 
tonian societies — rival prayer-meetings — rival Sabbath 
schools — rival hymn-books — and so far as the beauty 
of the binding was concerned, rival Bibles f 

Here was a rich and full harvest for Deacon Curi- 
ous, who went from one society to the other, always 
like a bird of prey, with carrion in his mouth. He be- 



236 THE EBONY IDOL. 

wailed the sins of No. 1, and lie wept tears of blood 
over the vanities of No. 2. " He lifted up his voice 
like a pelican in the wilderness, and like the sparrow 
upon the house-top, he uttered his moan ! " 

We drop the curtain over the shameless and unpar- 
donable recklessness of political religion. Would to 
heaven that Minden alone bore witness to the fatal folly 
of its clergy ! that no other churches had been as ruth- 
lessly sacrificed to that conservatism, that sees no evil 
to combat at its own threshold, and no souls worth sav- 
ing but those beyond the precincts to which they have 
been called to minister. 

All over the country the deserted churches are elo- 
quent with reproach, while from afar comes up the wail 
of despair from the scattered flocks, who have fallen into 
the pits their own pastors have dug for their souls. To 
what, we ask, is this unwonted disregard for the Sab- 
bath, and this startling predisposition to infidelity at- 
tributable, which for the last few years has palsied re- 
ligious influence, and clogged the wheels of Christiani- 
ty ? Why are backsliders from the true faith so nu- 
• merous, and why is the Church hooted at by her former 
friends ? We boldly answer, it is because the clergy 
have grown wanton in their abuse of the respect ac- 
corded to them as the vicegerents of God ! They insult 
the audiences that go up to the high places for religious 
instructions, by forcing 'upon them political rantings 
which they would not presume to utter in the streets ! 



THE EBONY IDOL. 237 

Most recklessly have they cast the " apple of discord " 
among their people. Wickedly have they imputed 
their own self-will and tenacity of purpose to the im- 
pulses of God ! We repudiate such blasphemy ! A 
political priest is a social and moral evil, and the church 
can no more thrive under his influence than flowers be- 
neath the shade of the deadly upas. 

And what is to be the result of this strange fanat- 
icism ? for, indeed, by what milder appellative can it be 
known ? 

Cannot the clergy be made sensible that they are 
placing the axe at the root of their own tree ? that they 
are sapping forever that beautiful trust and confidence 
and love which the New England people have pre-emi- 
nently accorded to its clergy ? In whom can we be- 
lieve, if the pastor that we have elected with thanks- 
giving, and sustained with our prayers, tramples upon 
our religious interests to gratify his personal proclivi- 
ties ? "We have trusted ; alas, let us not be betrayed ! 

Break to us still the Bread of Life, for which we are 
an hungered ; avail yourselves of the sanctity with which 
we invest you, and w^hich is the key to the influence 
you exert over the people, to hush the tempests of our 
passions, and so far as in you lies, 

" Between us two let there be peace I " 

The human heart demands this influence ; we turn 
aside from the strife of worldly warfare and lean against 



238 THE EBONY IDOL. 

your breast as did the Disciple against the Saviour who 
loved him ! Betray thou not us with a kiss ! See to 
it that at the last great day the blood of your church 
be not required at your hands ! 



CHAPTER XXIII. 



c Unaiming charms with rays resistless fall, 
And she who means no mischief does it all."— Aaron Hill. 



Most cheerfully do we turn aside from the dissen- 
sions and unseemly brawls which have so fatally mar- 
red the serenity of our " happy valley," to follow the 
fortunes of our pleasant acquaintance, Frank Stanton, 
who had been summoned to his home for the avowed 
purpose of seeking an alliance with the family of his 
father's eldest and firmest friend, Arnold. 

Mr. Arnold, who for the first time we here present 
to the reader, was a gentleman of the olden school, the 
tempting acres of whose plantation had many a long 
year stretched out beside those of the Hon. Mr. Stanton, 
but which had been sadly neglected during many years 
of Mr. Arnold's absence from his estate. 

In years gone by, a dark cloud had settled around 
the home-hearth of the Arnolds. The youngest daugh- 
ter, a child of exquisite loveliness and promise, had 
mysteriously disappeared when abroad with its nurse 



24:0 THE EBONY IDOL. 

for the daily airing ; she had been left upon the border 
of a creek during the temporary absence of the woman, 
who had gone, as she said, to pull for it some bunches 
of mistletoe, for which the child had clamored. At 
first the nurse had concealed the little girl's absence, 
hoping, she said, to discover her ; but when at length 
the alarm was given, the household pet had disappear- 
ed. When every endeavor to find the child had alike 
proved futile, the unhappy father had taken his droop- 
ing wife and sole surviving daughter to Cuba, where 
he had devoted himself to seeking oblivion and a for- 
tune. 

As is frequently the case with persons who have 
been many years exiled from the scenes of earlier asso- 
ciations, Mr. Arnold later in life awakened to a longing 
desire to return to his former home ; to restore and 
beautify it, to bear hither his household goods, and an- 
nounced his determination to sleep in the home of his 
fathers. 

The early and half romantic friendship which had 
formerly existed between the neighbors was renewed, 
and from chess-playing and champagne, and the never- 
to-be-forgotten euchre, the father of the son and the 
father of the daughter glided into matrimonial specu- 
lations, and hit upon the happy project of uniting their 
children and thfeir treasures. 

As the young people were equally attractive in per- 
son and purse, a demurrer from either did not seem 



THE EBONY IDOL. 241 

likely. Frank was summoned from the North, and 
Edith was bidden to make ready for the altar ; but 
with what satisfactory results, we leave to the telling 
of our Adonis himself, who, it is to be presumed, is 
more familiar with his own wooing than the disinter- 
ested historian of Minden. 

Letter from Frank Stanton to Horace Bryan, Esq. : 

"My Dear Mentor: 

" Behold me, then, no longer the acknowledged heir 
of the Stanton domains, but simply plebeian Frank, 
shorn of all, because he cannot forget in his devotion to 
Mammon some other material things. 

" I am disgraced and disowned forever ! and that, too, 
by the best and fondest of fathers. Two weeks more, 
and I shall have returned to Minden, to the kindest of 
Mentors. I will complete my studies, enter the profes- 
sion, and together we will administer justice as ' Dom- 
bey & Son. 5 

" But I anticipate. Tou were in my father's confi- 
dence in regard to the reasons of my recall ; you shall 
be in mine as to the reasons of my disgrace. 

" It was scarcely three evenings after my return that 
I was summoned to my father's library ; I was inform- 
ed that, being the only son, and growing up, etc., etc., 
I was expected to sustain the honors of our house, and 
strengthen its social position by a suitable alliance. 
11 



24:2 THE EBONY IDOL. 

" To all this, I most dutifully assented ; whereupon 
I was quietly informed that, having been fortunate 
enough to renew his intimacy with a friend of early life, 
whose daughter was the possessor of every virtue and 
accomplishment, he had already proposed for my ac- 
ceptance, and, he was happy to inform me, with entire 
success ! 

" I received the announcement in courteous silence ; 
and when, upon the day following, I was trotted out to 
be reviewed by my future owner, I flatter myself my 
appearance was not discreditable to the matrimonial 
turf ! The father received me with charming urbanity, 
the mother with patronizing approval, and the daugh- 
ter — with civility. 

" Well, we rode, we walked, we sang, and we ro- 
manced ; but although we grew very merry and inti- 
mate, it was plainly to be seen that — we were only five 
less than seven. 

" Not long since, as I was turning the leaves of the 
lady's music, a note fell to the floor. As I raised it, the 
flush upon her cheek riveted my attention, but I con- 
quered my curiosity, and extended the paper without 
once glancing at the superscription. She perceived it, 
I think, for after a little charming hesitation she return- 
ed it to me. 

" ' Perhaps,' she said, ' if Mr. Stanton would have the 

kindness to read it, it might save him a world of trouble.' 

, " The lady was right, certainly ; for the note was a 



THE EBONY IDOL. 243 

most amorous confession, exceedingly well expressed, 
and bore the full signature of her lover. I held it in 
my fingers, looking, I am sure, remarkably foolish, 
while she struck a few chords upon the piano. 

" As she glanced coyly toward me, with her dark 
lashes drooping over her beautiful eyes, I confess, my 
dear Mentor, that the least possible pang of jealousy 
seized me, and I returned it with a simple bow of ac- 
knowledgment. 

" Edith flushed indignantly. 

" ' Shall it be answered, Mr. Stanton ? ' 

" * As it pleases you ;' and perhaps she grew a little 
pale. 

" ' You are not as frank with me, Mr. Stanton, as I 
am with you. Let me be honest ; I fancied the letter 
would gratify you.' 

" < And you, Edith ? ' 

"The lady's taper fingers stole to her crimsoning 
cheeks, and I could not be unconscious that tears spar- 
kled over the diamonds that encircled them, as she said, 
almost in a whisper, 

" ' I loved him long before you and I ever met ! ' 

" ' Love him, then, forever, my dear Edith,' I cried, 
rapturously, taking her hand for the first time in my 
life between both of mine ; ' God forbid that my shadow 
should ever cross your path.' 

" Her soft hand trembled, and a bright smile kissed 
the dew from her cheek. 



244: THE EBONY IDOL. 

" ' You have never loved me,' she said, archly ; < I 
forgive you, but you will now understand why ! ' 

"My answer was entirely confidential, and for a 
few minutes we were the happiest of mortals ; but pres- 
ently a new thought suggested itself — the parental ap- 
proval ! 

" ' I am convinced/ Edith said, ' that my father 
would prefer Mr. Stanton above all others for his son- 
in-law ; partly because his word, which he considers 
inviolate, is pledged, and still more that he has long 
known and admired the father. My father will not 
forfeit his pledge even to promote my happiness ; but 
if the refusal could originate with your family, I am 
confident of his approval.' 

" ' Consider yourself free, then, my dear Edith. My 
father will most certainly withdraw his claims, if, in- 
deed, that alone can secure your happiness.' 

" The lady thanked me so cordially, I could not 
doubt but she was equally sincere, and now for the 
result. 

" It was now my turn to summon my father to the 
library, which I did the very next morning. It was 
evidently my duty to take the consequences of this rup- 
ture upon myself, since I knew my father never could 
be made to understand that Edith could actually prefer 
another to his son ! I am afraid I made wretched work 
of my revelation, for it was a full hour by the dial be- 
fore he comprehended my mission. You should have 



THE EBONY IDOL. 245 

seen him then, a perfect Cato in majesty, confronting 
me in his anger; 

" ' Am I to understand,' he thundered forth, ' that 
yon refuse to sustain my pledge to the Hon. Mr. Ar- 
nold?' 

" ' If you please, sir.' 

" ' And that you decline the honor of his daughter's 
hand?' 

" ' Decidedly, sir.' 

" 'And for what reasons, sir ? ' 

" < For such as can*be known only to myself.' 

" My father's brow grew black as midnight. 

" ' You may retire, sir,' was rather hissed than , 
spoken ; and you may rely upon it, I awaited no second 
bidding. 

" A week after, my father sent for me. 

" ' Had I re-considered our last interview ? ' 

" < I had.' 

" ' And my decision ? ' 

" ' "Was unchanged ! ' 

" There was a stately bow, and a very graceful part- 
ing salute. 

" My step was upon the threshold, but I confess to 
you, my dear Mentor, my heart was in my mouth ; I 
hesitated. 

" ' My dear father,' I said, c allow me to justify this 
apparent obstinacy. I beg you to believe, that to 
thwart your wishes brings more pain to my heart than 



246 THE EBONY IDOL. 

it can possibly do to yours. Time will explain my pres- 
ent decision, and you will then understand that never 
so much as now have I been worthy to be your son ! ' 

" I paused for encouragement to proceed, but my 
father was silent. The bow and salute were repeated, 
and nothing remained for me but to retire. 

" The next morning I found upon my dressing-table 
a civil note, advising me to return to you for the com- 
pletion of my studies, enclosing a draft upon my fa- 
ther's banker, and a very decided intimation that thus 
ended my expectations ! 

" I shall return to you, then, my dear and most ex- 
cellent Mentor, and if any thing could reconcile me to 
this unmerited displeasure, the solace will most assured- 
ly be found in the renewal of our old intercourse, and 
in the conviction that whatever befalls me, I can rely 
upon your friendship, which, like the old oak that stands 
sentinel by your cottage-door, will remain unmoved 
alike by sunshine and storm. 

" Tours, &c, 

" Fkank Stanton." 

Squire Bryan went home with Frank Stanton's let- 
ter in his pocket, the happiest of men ; he found Nannie 
and Mary chatting in their usual quiet way in the cosy 
parlor. 

The husband threw himself upon the sofa, and placing 
his head upon Nannie's lap, gazed thoughtfully at Mary 



THE EBONY IDOL. 247 

through his half-shut eyes. Yes — she was very beautiful 
—very ; the exceeding softness and purity of her child- 
like face, the long lashes that rose and fell so reluctantly 
over the bluest of laughing eyes, the poetical brow and 
finely arched eye-brows, classic nostrils, and that pecu- 
liarly chiselled lip, so exceedingly rare in the mould- 
ing of beauty ! All these, with the rose-tinted com- 
plexion, and wealth of fair hair floating out in ringlets 
of most fantastic grace, gave to that exquisite face a 
mythical beauty, so often an inhabitant of the fairy 
realms of imagination ! 

Then, too, how regally the head bore itself upon the 
white full throat ! how gently the rounded shoulders 
sloped away to where the finely moulded arms became' 
eloquent with the poesy of motion, and the whole per- 
son expanded in undulating beauty ! 

The Squire watched her taper fingers coquetting with 
the embroidery, until, twining his own hands in Nan- 
nie's, his fancy went wandering back to the days of his 
own courtship, and the hours his wife's white hands 
had woven meshes for his own fond heart. 

" A penny for your thoughts, Horace," cried the 
wife, releasing her hand from his warm clasp to stroke 
back the thinned locks which had gathered many a sil- 
ver thread since her fingers had first caressed them. 

" Well, I have something t5 tell you, little wife — 
an agreeable surprise to us all : we are to have Frank 
Stanton back again." 



248 THE EBONY IDOL. 

Nannie gave a cry of delight ; but Mary only bent 
lower over her embroidery, and her small hands shook 
like aspens. 

" But I thought Frank never was to return to his 
law, but go on wooing a fortune ! " said the wife, when 
the first surprise was over. 

"Nevertheless his father suggests his return, and 
Frank has written to announce it. He is probably upon 
the road before this." 

Nannie was full of conjectures, anticipating all kinds 
of pleasant arrangements for the future ; but Mary's 
needle flew faster and faster, and still the crimson 
deepened upon her cheek. 

That night, when the young girl retired to her own 
room, what a world of undefinable bliss flooded her 
young heart, banishing slumber from her eyes, but 
bringing no weariness to her soul ! She was to live, 
then, beneath the same roof with Stanton, and associate 
daily with the object which she had regarded as a deity 
worthy her purest worship. 

The last few months had given wondrous tone and 
delicacy of finish to the young girl's inner nature ; she 
had found, in the refinements of her new home, the sub- 
stance for which she had so vainly sighed— that higher 
life, the longing after which had only mocked and em- 
bittered her former existence. The world was before 
her, tinted with the roseate coloring of a first and ear- 
nest passion. 



THE EBONY IDOL. 249 

Formerly she had shrank from Mr. Stanton as un- 
worthy to receive the courtesies of a common acquaint- 
ance. The very atmosphere of her rude home she felt 
must be repulsive to his cultivated tastes, and however 
unjustly, that repulsiveness must necessarily envelop 
her own person. The budding graces which had con- 
cealed their promise when chilled by those sullen skies, 
opened in full luxuriance when nursed by the genial 
sunshine of affection. 

She was not herself indifferent to this mental meta- 
morphosis, nor to the exquisite loveliness which her 
mirror reflected, since she felt both to be the keys that 
should unlock the treasures she coveted. Something 
whispered to her believing heart that there was a mean- 
iing in Stanton's return, which she alone rightly inter- 
preted. And so the days glided by, while her new-born 
buoyancy of spirit imparted a flitting elasticity of mo- 
tion whenever she moved, and warbled in the musical 
gushings that mocked the songsters of the skies, until 
Frank Stanton resumed his old position in the family, 
and looked the admiration he even then did not venture 
to speak. 

The young man was evidently in many respects un- 
like the Frank Stanton we have known. There was an 
earnestness in his tone and manner, a sincerity of bear- 
ing unlike his former gay good-nature. Life had evi- 
dently become a reality to him, and he had armed him- 
self to run the race manfully. Blackstone and Story no 
11* 



250 ' THE EBONY IDOL. 

longer lay at his feet unread. His step was firmer, and 
his eye beamed with a keen insight into the present and 
future ; he was quick to decide and energetic to act ; 
and Squire Bryan was never weary of laying his hands 
in his old caressing way upon his shoulder, and uttering 
his praises with honest pride. No father could read 
his son's success with more self-congratulation ; and in- 
deed, although the yoke had never chafed the youthful 
shoulders that bore it, had not Frank been a child of 
his own discipline ? 

Nannie, with equal pride, rejoiced in the growing 
graces of her own protege^ and notwithstanding she 
pronounced the attraction of the young couple a very 
foolish affair, was constantly engaged in a series of ma- 
nceuvrings that assumed its perfect propriety. 

"I am surprised," said Frank one day to Squire 
Bryan, when they were in confidential discourse in re- 
gard to his future, " that Mrs. Bryan never alludes to 
the change in my pecuniary affairs." 

The Squire smiled, as, removing his segar, he press- 
ed out the fire, and laid the stump carefully aside — 

" "Well, the truth is, she does not know any thing 
about it." 

Frank gazed in surprise ; " But I expected, nay, 
wished her to be in my confidence." 

" Possibly ; but I thought better of it. These wo- 
men are always talking over things among themselves, 



THE EBONY IDOL. 251 

and I think, for the present, the matter had better rest 
between yon and me." 

Frank was silent, as if from thought. 

" And Mary," he asked at length, " does she still 
suppose me carrying out my father's matrimonial 
views ? " 

" I cannot say ; she certainly has no authority from 
me to think otherwise." 

Frank whistled a favorite refrain, and fidgeted a 
little in his study chair. 

" I do not think she had better remain under that 
impression," the young man said, seriously ; " I would 
rather she should know of my father's displeasure." 

" And why ? " asked his Mentor, turning his keen 
eye suddenly upon him ; " what is Mary's opinion to 
you, or yours to Mary ? " 

A quick deep flush passed over the young man's 
face, as he wheeled directly in firont of his malicious 
friend. 

" Much, sir. As much as Nannie's could have been 
to you, or yours to Nannie." 

" Eight, my boy ;" and the Squire extended a hand, 
which the other clasped in silence, while both seemed 
struggling to keep down their emotion. 

" I feel almost certain that this unnatural estrange- 
ment between father and son will not long continue," 
the Squire went on, " unless some new irritation keeps 
it alive. The simple fact of your unwillingness to marry 



252 THE EBONY IDOL. 

Miss Arnold will be forgiven when your father discov- 
ers her new engagement. Indeed, he will then under- 
stand, or suppose he understands, the reason for your 
firm opposition. But if he discovers that, not content 
with baffling him, you have dared to entertain an affec- 
tion for a person, nameless, portionless, and of Yankee 
origin, there is little hope he can ever be brought to 
regard you with leniency. If, as I infer, you desire 
Mary to be aware of your preference, my advice is, that 
you do not commit yourself until you are certain that 
time and circumstances cannot alter your present pur- 
pose ; and if possible, allow your father an opportunity 
to know your future wife before he condemns her ! " 

Frank felt the cogency of the reasoning, but, alas, 
it was wofully averse to his frank, impulsive nature. 

" And Mary ; can I allow myself to trifle with her 
unsuspecting nature? How long would she tolerate 
such prudence ? " asked the young man, warmly. 

" As long as she hoped ! As long as she was sensi- 
ble no other was preferred before her." 

Frank hesitated. " No," he answered ; " what you 
advise is the voice of prudence, perhaps, but not the 
prompting of love like mine. The experience of the 
last few months convinces me that my fate is centred 
here. I will never deserve my father's anger, but you 
may be sure I shall never be unmanned by it. I will 
pursue the right, with i Heart within, and God o'er 
head! 5 I would not exchange one thread of Mary's 



THE EBONY IDOL. 253 

golden hair for the wealth of the Indies. We are 
young ; we are hopeful. "With your blessing we will 
never despair ! " 

" God's blessing on you, then, son of my love, as 
you shall henceforth be of my old age ! My harvest 
has never been so golden as your father's, but it will 
suffice for you and me if fortune frown upon your hon- 
est effort." 

The kind Mentor's voice grew husky, and Frank, 
grasping his hand anew, bent over it with a heart too 
full for utterance. Worthy of each other were the 
spirits that mingled in that sacred embrace ! 

The evening shadows stole in over and around the . 
dusty old office, but still the two men sat planning for the 
future, and building up beautiful air castles which they 
decked with the gorgeous drapery of hope. The young 
heart leaped forward, panting for future contest, while 
the old grew youthful and earnest beneath the magnet- 
ism of that noble spirit. 

Later in the evening, Frank Stanton told his story 
at Nannie's home-hearth. It was surprising what an 
exhilarating effect his bad fortunes produced in the little 
circle. Nannie joined in the adoption with a sincerity 
equal to her husband's, while Mary's long lashes droop- 
ed lower and lower, until the soft cheek sunk into the 
sheltering palm, which vainly endeavored to conceal 
the tell-tale blushes. 

Still later, the curious moon came peering in at the 



254: THE EBONY IDOL. 

window. Horace and Nannie had been long away ; 
and although the moon kissed two young faces radiant 
with bliss, she smiled to see that with all her stratagem 
she could only throw one shadow upon the wall ! 



CHAPTEE XXIV. 

" Yonder comes news ! A wager, they liave met."— Coriolantjs. 

Letter from Hon. F. Stanton to Abraham Cutter, Esq., 
Attorney and Counsellor, New York : 

" Dear Sir : — I wish you immediately to take such 
measures in the following matter as, upon understand- 
ing it, you may think proper : 

" About fourteen years since, Mr. Arnold, a neigh- 
bor of mine and a very old friend, lost a daughter under 
these circumstances : the nurse had the child out one 
morning on the premises attached to my friend's house, 
and leaving it for a few minutes on the bank of a small 
stream, while she obtained some clambering wild flow- 
ers that the child cried for, upon her return the child 
was not to be seen. The nurse in her fear concealed 
the loss of the child for some hours, and when it became 
known all search was vain, though continued for many 
days. My friend some months after left the country, 
to endeavor to dissipate the sorrow the circumstance 
caused. 



256 THE EBONY IDOL. 

" He recently returned ; and some casual words 
dropped by this nurse having given rise to the belief 
that she had at least a suspicion, never before spoken, 
of the fate of the child, caused her to be very closely 
questioned, and revealed the fact that she believed the 
child to have been stolen in a spirit of wickedness and 
revenge by a very bad negro fellow then in my posses- 
sion ; and by him sold or otherwise disposed of to a 
company of vagrants that had been for some time pre- 
viously in the neighborhood. The child was remarka- 
ble for its delicate beauty. 

" Unfortunately the slave implicated is no longer in 
my possession ; having some time since run off — to the 
North, as I naturally suppose. I have made no effort 
for his recovery, and it is possible that he may now be 
beyond pursuit. His recovery, however, seems to be 
imperatively necessary. 

" He answered here to the name of Coesar ; was 
large and gross in person, ebony black, and having the 
heavy movement of a strong man, much cunning, and 
being generally a bad fellow. 

" Inform me of what you undertake immediately, 
and much oblige 

" Tours, respectfully, 

"F. Staoton." 



THE EBONY IDOL. 257 

Abeaham: Cuttee, Esq., Attorney and Counsellor^ to 
Hon. F. Stanton : 

"Deae Sie: — I have traced a fugitive answering 
your description to the town of Minden, in the State 
of . 

" We had, perhaps, better concert personally the 
course to be followed, as under ordinary circumstances 
I doubt the possibility of capturing the negro ; for if 
my information is correct, the people of the neighbor- 
hood are devoted to him. He preaches regularly in a 
church that has been built purposely for him, seats in 
which were recently rented at an enormously high rate \ 
and his hand is sought in marriage by several ladies of 
great wealth and high social position. 

" Yery sincerely and truly, etc., 

" Abeaham Cutter." 

Not a moment was to be lost. Mr. Arnold and Mr. 
Stanton immediately started northward upon the pa- 
rental pilgrimage. 

The journey was prosecuted with little delay until 
within a day's journey of Minden, when they found 
themselves compelled to await the early coach in a little 
village so exceedingly destitute of attraction that the 
delay seemed doubly vexatious. 

Eager and restless, our travellers wandered out in 
quest of adventure, when seeing the villagers flocking 



258 THE EBONY IDOL. 

towards the church, they joined the crowd and went in, 
supposing the services to be of a religious character. 
Judge, therefore, of their surprise, when with the easy 
assurance of a speaker conscious of being well received 
by the audience, Caesar strutted along the aisle, and 
rolled his eyes complacently over the multitude. De- 
spite the changes time and circumstances had wrought 
in his appearance, the elder Stanton recognized in the 
evening orator no less a personage than the distinguished 
individual of whom they were in pursuit, and who, as 
the reader already knows, tho' the lawyer did not, was 
upon a lecturing tour. 

Uncertain of the best method of procedure, our trav- 
ellers incautiously exchanged sentences, which were 
immediately understood by the .curious listeners near 
them, and it was directly rumored through the house 
that strangers were present for the express purpose of 
kidnapping the lecturer ! 

Our travellers, all unconscious of the storm gather- 
ing around them, sat^ absorbed in their own specula- 
tions, until the unusual excitement among the crowd 
attracted their attention, and they became conscious 
that all eyes were suspiciously turned upon themselves. 

The lecturer in the meanwhile silently disappeared, 
and our travellers, thinking it wise to do the same, took 
their hats and were quietly passing out, when they 
were confronted by an officious little man with a jack- 
knife in one hand and a roll of " pig-tail " in the other, 



THE EBONY IDOL. 259 

who desired to be informed who they were and why 
they were present ? 

Our travellers replied that they were citizens of the 
United States, travelling upon their own private affairs, 
and requested the little man to allow them to pass out. 

The owner of the pig-tail and jack-knife demanded 
in* a louder tone to be informed if they had not been 
conversing together in regard to the lecturer ? 

Our travellers intimated very delicately that it was 
none of the little man's business, and that if he had any 
business of his own it would be well for him to attend 
to it. 

Little gentleman was now in a state of tremendous 
excitement, and flourishing his knife and pig-tail right 
and left, commenced haranguing the crowd in the most 
violent manner, urging that the gentlemen should be 
taken into custody until their intentions were known. 

The crowd closed in around our friends, and the 
clamor became so fearful that the travellers thought it 
advisable to suggest that, since they could not be treat- 
ed like gentlemen by gentlemen, a few of the most 
prominent citizens present should attend them to the 
hotel, where they would be happy to satisfy them of 
their honorable intentions. 

A few intelligent persons immediately urged the 
adoption of this gentlemanly concession, as being the 
one most likely to do justice to the strangers ; but their 
voices were soon drowned by the pig-tail clique, who 



260 



THE EBONY IDOL. 



cried aloud that the proposal was simply a stratagem 

for escape. 

The little gentleman, the throng having slowly 
moved out of the church, now mounted a convenient 




elevation, and after having deposited a fresh quid in 
his left cheek, harangued something as follows : 

« Let us not be cheated out of our rights, gentle- 
men ! Who are these men who have intruded in here 
to-night, evidently with the most felonious designs? 
They confess themselves to be Southerners ; they con- 
fess themselves to be interested in our lecturer ! They 



THE EBOmf IDOL. 261 

confess themselves to be anxious to retire when ques- 
tioned as to their business here, thinking, no doubt, we 
shall be foolish enough to allow them an opportunity 
to kidnap our colored brother, and carry him back to 
his former servitude ! [Immense excitement.] 

" Gentlemen, shall it be allowed ? [Yells of < No ! 
no ! '] Are we not all created free and equal ? [Cries 
of ' Yes ! yes ! '] Are the stars and stripes of our 
country's flag to be dragged down to the dust? 
[Screams of ' Never ! never ! '] This is the voice of the 
people — the Godlike people ! and the land upon which 
you stand is the land of freemen ! The eagle of liberty 
flaps his broad wings above our Alpine heights ! one 
foot rests upon the Atlantic, and the other upon the 
Pacific sea ! [Yoice — ' Don't ! you'll make him split 
his straddle ! '] " 

" Order, there ! " 

" Let 'er rip ! " 

" Gentlemen — [here the little man smashed his fists 
together] — my voice is for liberty ! [Tremendous cheer- 
ing !] Never, so long as a drop of Puritan blood flows 
in these veins, will I consent to stand by and see a fel- 
low-creature robbed of his freedom 1 [Cries of ' Nor I ! 
nor I!']" 

" Let these gentlemen lay but a finger upon this 
man, and we will not answer for their blood ! " 

[" No talking about blood ! "] 

" I say blood ! [Smash went the little man's fists 



262 THE EBONY IDOL. 

again !] "Who cares for human life when our liberty is 
endangered ? I say with Patrick Henry, ' give me lib- 
erty or give me death ! ' " 

Here a tall, quiet, pale-faced man placed himself by 
the little man's side. 

" Gentlemen, hear me, and let this unreasonable ex- 
citement subside ! This is no time for harangues upon 
freedom ; where is the occasion for either this gentle- 
man's eloquence or blood ? What have these gentlemen, 
who came in here to-night strangers, relying upon our 
hospitalities, done, that they should be delayed and in- 
sulted by behavior and language like this. 

" If you doubt them, have they not themselves pro- 
posed the only rational manner of allaying your suspi- 
cions ? If you are sincere in your profession of equal 
rights, cannot you perceive that these strangers have 
rights also, which, if you violate, you make yourselves 
amenable to the law which protects the North and the 
South alike? Let us not disgrace our manhood; we 
are not ruffians ; let us act like men, and forbear like 
Christians." 

Little gentleman again smashes his hands together, 
and wiping his forehead with a red bandana, jumps up 
and re-commences : 

" Who talks of Christian forbearance when our lib- 
erty is in danger ! " 

Cries of " Hold yer yawp, can't ye ? " and " Go on 
Squire." 



THE EBONY IDOL. 263 

Squire Bemis made an attempt to proceed, but 
the little man wasn't to be put down. 

" I tell you I will be beard." 

" Set down ! Squire Bemis ! Squire Bemis ! " 

" I tell you I won't set down." 

" Stand up, then ! Go on, Squire ! " 

" Gentlemen," cried the little man, now folding his 
arms with Koman dignity, " I am not the man to be 
put down by Squire Bemis, or by you ! I will be 
heard, if I have to stand here until the clock strikes 
one ! " 

" Don't get sweaty ! " 

Little gentleman gnashes his teeth. 

" Better lei him go on. I have known him these 
ten years, and if he says he'll stand there, he will ! " 

Groans, and hisses, and cheers ! meanwhile little 
man's eyes flash fire. 

" Come, hurry up your cakes, little un' ! " 

" Say what you've got to say, quicker the better ! " 

Little man gets frothy about the mouth. 

" Why don't you go on ! " 

" Where is the long-legged eagle ! " 

" Order ! order, there ! " 

" Come, little un'— we're waitin' ! " 

One or two missiles flew through the air, fall- 
ing near our travellers, taking off a man's hat, and 
knocking over a little boy on the way. 

Intense excitement, and renewed cries of order. 



264 THE EBONY IDOL. 

In the crowd still around the church-porch, ladies were 
trying to get out — a few treating themselves to hysterics, 
while the children tramp after, treading upon their 
dresses, and crushing the old men's corns in the stam- 
pede. Groans, profanity, and cries of order, prevail. 
In the mean while the lights are extinguished, and when 
they are re-lighted our travellers had disappeared, and 
David Dickey appeared. 

" Gentlemen," he said, " allow me to say your lec- 
turer is safe ; and so far as he is concerned, this excite- 
ment is entirely uncalled for. The evening is so far ad- 
vanced, it is not advisable to resume the lecture, and 
our engagements are such we cannot remain after this 
evening, although we will endeavor to fulfil our en- 
gagement later. Let me advise that you retire quietly 
to your homes. In the mean while, in behalf of the 
lecturer, I thank you for the cordiality of his reception 
among you, and trust we shall meet again. I wish you 
good evening." 

Here the little man interposed : " I suppose you de- 
sign to refund our money ? " 
* "-Cries of " No, no." * 

[Little man, indignantly] — " For one, as we have 
had no lecture, I shall refuse to pay." 

David hands him a ninepence. 

" The crowd can have their money refunded as they 
pass out." 

Cries of " Give it to the little 'un — he's earned it ! " 



THE EBONY IDOL. 265 

[Voice receding] — " Go home, little un', and take a 
whiskey-skin ; you're sweaty, and you'll get cold ! " 

Here retreating footsteps, loud laughing, nigger 
melodies, swearing, and speeches mingled in such a jar- 
gon that nothing was discernible. 

An hour after, nothing remained in or around 
the " House of God " to bear witness to the patriot- 
ism of the occasion but little puddles of tobacco- 
juice, and the indescribable odor of the " sovereign 
people ! " 

The peacefully inclined portion of the community 
quietly retired to their homes ; but the economical little 
patriot, who was so much more lavish of his eloquence 
than his ninepences, determined to air his patriotism at 
all hazards ; and gathering a few ill-advised persons 
around him, proceeded valorously towards the hotel, to 
which Mr. Stanton and his friend had retired. 

The landlord informed the crowd that the gentle- 
men, weary with travel, had retired for the night, and 
as he would himself be responsible for the good beha- 
vior and peaceful intentions of his guests, he begged 
they would go quietly away, expressing himself willing 
to " treat all round" if they would kindly accede to his 
wishes. This they consented to do in consideration of 
the " liquoring ;" but no sooner were the glasses emp- 
tied than they returned to the assault more zealously 
than ever. The crow'd without grew larger and more 
desperate, while the landlord, aided by such of his 
12 



266 THE EBONY IDOL. 

friends as he could rally, prepared to resist their en- 
croachments, and protect the travellers. 

The yells without were becoming savage and 
hideous, w T hen our travellers appeared in the bar room, 
and Mr. Stanton said, in a calm voice — 

" If this gentleman's house is to be besieged, and 
the night made hideous in this manner on our account, 
we are ready to meet these ruffians either peacefully or 
otherwise. Throw open your doors, and let us speak to 
the excited crowd ; surely they must listen to reason." 

" For God's sake, gentlemen, retire at once," cried 
Squire Bemis ; " you must be entirely ignorant of the 
persistency of our people, if you fancy they would be- 
lieve a word you should utter. They have condemned 
you without hearing, and they would lynch you the 
moment they had you in their power. There is but 
one alternative: prepare to proceed on your journey. 
Horses are being got ready while we are speaking ; the 
landlord will see you off, while I and our friends here 
divert the attention of the people. Farewell, gentle- 
men ! do not judge Northern hospitality by this vil- 
lainous exhibition of the rabble. Remember, it is the 
froth of the barrel that carries off the impurities of the 
wine." 

The gentlemen shook hands cordially, and a little 
after, our travellers were pursuing the same underground 
railroad over which Caesar and David had sped hours 
before. 



CHAPTEE XXV. 



-" He is about it, 



The doors are open." — Macbeth. 

Late in the day following a covered carriage stop- 
ped before the cottage-door of our friend Bryan, and 
Nannie fluttered hither and thither, as an elderly gen- 
tleman, burning with fever and wild with the strange 
fancies of swift-coming insanity, was borne into the 
cheerful guest-chamber, and tenderly placed between 
the snowy linen of the luxurious " spare bed." It was 
the Hon. Mr. Stanton, upon whom the late excitements 
and exposures had had their effect. 

"With the resolution of a strong will he had kept 
back the enemy, until he reached the shelter of his 
friend's roof, when as a child sinks into its mother's 
arms, he gave one pressure of recognition to the kind 
hand that clasped his own, and mental darkness envel- 
oped him. Long weeks of burning fever ensued, dur- 
ing which the almost equally frantic son listened to the 
mournful ravings in which his own name was so con- 



268 THE EBONY IDOL. 

spicuously woven, and learned of all the parental ten- 
derness that still flooded the old man's heart. 

Night after night Frank kneeled by his bedside, 
praying for forgiveness for every pang his waywardness 
had inflicted ; but the wild eyes turned wearily away, 
while the sufferer vainly prayed for his son ! But there 
was one voice that never pleaded in vain — one hand 
that never was repulsed — one sweet face that always 
brought solace to the invalid— one step that his quick 
ear recognized before all others. The gentle Mary 
never approached him but with acceptance ; his medi- 
cines were received from her hand ; his hot brow grew 
cool beneath her caressings. However wayward his 
mood, the steady firmness of her blue eye quelled his 
ravings, and he would listen to her sweet melodies until 
slumber wrapt him in blissful unconsciousness. 

In his delirium he fancied her to be his guardian 
angel, before whom the demons that tortured him shrank 
back abashed, nor dare approach her charmed presence. 
Like a wayward child he would amuse himself with 
twisting her long tresses over his fingers, and holding 
them in .the rays of the sun, to catch their peculiar 
golden glimmer, which he imagined was the reflection 
of the " Golden City " from which she had wandered. 

As he became convalescent, his admiration rather 
increased than diminished ; and when he discovered 
that this angelic being was the adopted daughter of his 
friends^ his only surprise seemed to be that Frank never 



THE EBONY IDOL. 269 

should have even alluded to her wondrous loveliness. 
The hours of convalescence, usually so tedious to the 
impatient invalid, assumed a half-poetic tinge, as the 
fine old gentleman re-opened his softened heart to the 
influences of his son's affection, and the thousand and 
one kindnesses lavished upon him by his host and host- 
ess. Above all was he never weary of feeling the soft 
palm of " little Mary " upon his temples, and as she 
toyed with his white locks, and bent above him with 
the witchery of heart-light and heart-shade gleaming 
from her blue eyes, it was little wonder that he felt 
within his own heart an apology for the admiration 
which he was sometimes conscious flashed out unbidden 
over the handsome face of his son. 

At times, too, it must be confessed a suspicion dart- 
ed through the father's brain that something deeper 
and stronger than a passing fancy might have allured 
poor Frank from the golden alliance with Edith. 

It was in vain that Frank resorted to a variety of 
stratagems to draw from his father some unwary ex- 
pression that might foreshadow his fate should he hon- 
orably confess his passion. Whether intentionally or 
otherwise, all such attempts were so completely baffled 
that the son shrank from opening his heart to the pa- 
rental investigation. 

The father, in the meanwhile, was undergoing a self- 
inflicted investigation, not a whit inferior to that with 
which his son honored him. His long-established prej- 



270 THE EBONY IDOL. 

udices seem to have been shaken by the virtues of the 
gentle waif, and despite his hankering after " blood," 
he longed to engraft the sweet bud upon the genealog- 
ical tree of the Stantons ! 

The struggle between pride and generosity was a 
severe one, but humanity conquered, and the Honora- 
ble Mr. Stanton magnanimously resolved to humble 
himself and surprise his son. 

The day following this generous decision, when 
Squire Bryan came in as usual for an hour's political 
chatting, the conversation very unexpectedly took a 
sentimental turn, which the Squire was not long in per- 
ceiving was drifting towards his newly adopted daugh- 
ter. 

Now the Squire was perfectly aware of Mr. Stan- 
ton's doubly-refined stickling for " family ;" he knew 
that one drop of pure aristocratic blood was of more 
value in his old friend's eyes than coffers of gold. But 
Squire Bryan was a Yankee, accustomed to see 



'* Black, blue, and white 
Mingle— mingle— mingle," 



and we are sorry to say had little fellowship with Mr. 
Stanton's ideas. When, therefore, after a long pream- 
ble, in which the Honorable Mr. Stanton endeavored 
to reconcile his conscience with his condescension, and 
closed with an insinuation that he had decided not to 
oppose his son in any future ^alliance, the Squire mali- 



THE EBONY IDOL. 271 

ciously enough determined to inflict a little righteous 
castigation upon the patronizing offender. 

" It is true," Mr. Stanton went on, " Mary is by no 
means the wife I should have^chosen for my. son ; but 
then as her family is unknown, we can at least suppose 
her to have been of gentle blood." 

" Oh, as for Mary," cried the Squire, carelessly, 
" her blood or origin has nothing to do in this case : 
Mary is engaged." 

The aristocratic Mr. Stanton sprang to his feet, not 
unmindful of the quiet humor in the lawyer's eye. 

" Served me right," blurted out Stanton ; " served 
me right," he cried, testily. " I should have remem- 
bered my family, sir — my family. The very thought 
was madness, for which I stand rebuked ! " 

The Squire sat silently puffing his segar until his 
irate guest had resumed his equanimity. 

" Yes, sir, Mary is engaged, and very eligibly, too, 
sir. 1 assure you, the family is not a whit inferior to 
your own ! " 

" Possible ! " ejaculated the innocent invalid, paus- 
ing in his stampede to look his astonishment at the 
other family's condescension. 

" I shall never consent to Frank's marrying beneath 
him," he added with emphasis. 

As he spoke, the door opened, and Mary glided in 
with a package of letters for the gentlemen. Her quick 



272 THE EBONY IDOL. 

ear caught the fatal sentence, and she felt that her fate 
was sealed. 

A few days after this conversation, Mr. Stanton an- 
nounced his ability ancL intention of returning home at 
once. His illness precluded all possibility of benefiting 
his friend Arnold in his search for his daughter, and 
his prolonged absence rendered his presence upon the 
plantation imperative. Frank dutifully prepared to 
accompany him, and the leave-takings had already com- 
menced. 

It was late in the evening previous to the intended 
departure, before the family circle broke up, leaving 
Frank to take his farewell of poor Mary, and assure her 
whatever might betide, he would surely return to claim 
her as his own. But Mary's heart sank chill within 
her. The delicate and intuitive perception of character 
with which she was endowed, had revealed to her the 
knowledge of the father's heart more fully than it had 
ever been known to the son himself. She fancied that 
she saw the sacrifice by which she must be won ; nor 
was she insensible that the wealth of her loving heart 
was a mere bubble when weighed with the evils spring- 
ing from parental displeasure. 

" Do not cling to me," she cried, with her tearful 
face upon his bosom ; " I am a worthless weed which 
the ocean has stranded at your feet, and which pity 
alone could have rendered attractive. Do not embitter 
the life of your father — do not trample upon your own 



THE EBONY IDOL. 273 

interests. You are stronger than I ; speak but the word 
that shall make you free ! " 

" Not if that word would pave every step of my fu- 
ture life with gold, my Mary ! "What were riches with- 
out you to share them ? "What were honors, and you 
not by to exult in my success ? My father loves you 
already ; let us trust to time to soften the foolish prej u- 
dice of birth. Love such as ours is of divine origin ; it 
springs from heaven, and to heaven it shall return ! " 

And so, embracing and embraced, the sweet face 
caught something of her lover's hopeful gleaming, and 
as she felt how utterly desolate the world would be to 
her, but for the sunlight of his smile, poor Mary believ- 
ed, and was blest. 

That night the Stantons left for home. 



12* 



CHAPTEE XXVI. 



44 Whither, lone wanderer — whither art thou flown ? 
To what sequestered bower, or gloomy dell ? 
Say, dost thou go where sorrow is unknown— 
Where trouble never enters, dost thou dwell ? " — C. Lloyd. 



Among the letters which Mary was taking to the 
gentlemen at the moment the cruel declaration of Mr. 
Stanton fell upon her ear, was the following : 

Mb. Arnold to the Hon. Me. Stanton: 

"My Dear Friend: 

" Congratulate me. After these long weeks of in- 
tense solicitude, a little cloud arises in the East, no big- 
ger than a man's hand, but yet indicative of success. 
I can scarcely restrain my impatience while I pen these 
lines to you, and I write because my companions must 
rest, since human nature is exhausted. 

" To attempt a description of our will-o'-the-wisp 
movements would be useless. After my first interview 
with Csesar, of which I wrote you, I was plunged in 
the very depths of despair. 



THE EBONY IDOL. 275 

" The fellow was so obstinate that neither promises 
nor threats availed, and I am positive the rascal would 
have baffled me, but for the timely aid of the young 
man who accompanied him, and who, you will remem- 
ber, extricated us from our dilemma at the time we got 
involved with the ' sovereign people ' at the church in 
Blank. 

" This young man, who professed to be travelling 
with Csesar simply upon a kind of Yankee speculation, 
readily espoused my cause, and proved to be equally 
shrewd, persevering, and conversant with the class of 
people with whom we have to deal. 

u The family into whose hands Caesar knew the 
child to have passed, was found after the most painful 
search ; but we were informed that, having no motive 
for keeping the little girl, they had given her to a wan- 
dering musician, who was travelling over the Middle 
States. So we advertised for the stroller, and succeed- 
ed in attracting his attention by promises that appealed 
to his self-interest. He answered from the western part 
of New York, and thither we hastened, only to be told 
that he had exchanged the girl with a beggar woman 
for a boy, thinking the transfer would be for their mu- 
tual interest. 

" Here we were in danger of losing every trace. 
"We explored every haunt of known misery, and lavished 
money upon such of those unfortunate creatures as al- 
lured us with false hopes ; but Heaven be praised, we 



276 THE EBONY IDOL. 

stumbled upon the very object of our search in an old 
farm-house where we had stopped for a glass of water. 
The young man David immediately recognized her as 
an old woman who had wandered from Dan to Beer- 
sheba, and who had every two or three years passed 
through his own village. The miserable creature's 
brains were so shattered, and her memory so treacher- 
ous, that it required all of David's tact to bring to re- 
membrance the features of the wanderer. The poor 
babe had passed through such a variety of fortunes that 
it was impossible to describe her definitely. It was 
only when I mentioned the color of her hair, and shew- 
ed her the tress you have so often admired, that a glim- 
mering of the truth dawned upon her. 

" The child, she said, had been taken away by an- 
gels ! She had lain down to sleep one day, beneath a 
tree in the open air, leaving the child to pull the wild 
roses that grew by the hedge, but when she awoke the 
little thing had disappeared, but she heard her voice 
high up in the air singing. 

" It was in vain we argued and entreated — nothing 
could convince the hag that the child could have been 
living, and had probably strayed away during her slum- 
ber. But the superstition had fortunately impressed 
the locality upon her memory, and it seemed that she 
had yearly made a pilgrimage thither, to ' dream be- 
neath the tree of angels,' as she called the spot of her 
strange experience. 



THE EBONY IDOL. 277 

" Accordingly we took the poor old creature with 
us, and proceeded upon our forlorn mission. We found 
the tree, beneath which she had erected a little monu- 
ment of stones, and then we commenced inquiries 
among the inhabitants for the lost child ; but most of 
the families were of more recent date. Far back among 
the mountains we found an old man who was regarded 
as a kind of seer — but of unclouded intellect. Yes, he 
said, he remembered many years ago a child had been 
discovered wandering in the woods, but it was such a 
pale little thing no one cared to be encumbered with it, 
and it was sent to the poor farm. 

" Believe me, my dear friend, when this heart-rend- 
ing recital fell from the old man's lips, every vestige of 
hope and manliness left me ; I fell senseless upon the 
threshold. David bore me back to the rude inn, and 
watched over me with the tenderness and assiduity of 
woman ; but repose was impossible, and we dragged 
ourselves to the poor farm, only to be told that even 
the locality of the farm had been changed, and the es- 
tablishment had passed through the hands of at least a 
dozen different tenants. "We advertised, and sent run- 
ners in every direction. As yet.we have learned noth- 
ing more definite. 

" David, who professes to be well acquainted with 
the country around us, thinks from the character of the 
New Englanders, and their universal kindness to such 
objects of charity, that if the woman' s story was true, 



278 THE EBONY IDOL. 

we must be in the immediate vicinity of those who 
can speak more definitely of the child. 

" Imagine the anxiety of a father's heart, who has 
traced his poor child through wanderings like these ! 

" It is fearful to think what she must have suffered, 
and I shudder to think what she may have become. 

" Yours as ever, 

" Arnold." 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

" She cheers his gloom with streams of bursting light.' 1 — Solima. 

The excitement of the late partings had scarcely 
subsided in the cottage of the Bryans. 

Mary's sweet face still retained a shade of sadness, 
and her voice, always before gushing out into little 
snatches of delicious melodies, grew mute as the harp 
upon the willows. 

The kind Nannie, seemingly unmindful of her way- 
ward moods, left her to the quiet indulgence of them, 
thinking, perhaps, that solitude was the surest remedy 
for regrets like hers. 

One day, in her wanderings, she had extended her 
rambles far away amid the romantic windings of a road 
long since abandoned and grass-grown ; until, wearily 
seating herself, she had garlanded her brow and person 
with the graceful vines of the starry clematis, whose 
pale beauty seemed a fitting type of her own 4 As she 
twisted the tender stems, she warbled almost uncon- 



280 THE EBONY IDOL. 

sciously an old air, that seemed never to have been 
learned, but rather to have gushed up unbidden from 
some hidden spring ; so moss-grown that its existence 
had been forgotten. The notes stole forth clearer and 
sweeter, until the old forest took up the echo, and fai- 
ries seemed playfully flinging back the musical cadence 
of the songstress. 

The hoofs of horses approached softly, muffled by 
the untrampled verdure, and travellers paused to listen. 

" Surely I know that voice," cried David, eagerly. 

" Hush — hush — for God's sake, hush," cried Mr. 
Arnold, spurring his horse to David's side, and bring- 
ing it to a sudden stand still. "It is thirteen years 
since I have heard that air, and by heavens ! if my 
daughter lives, she is here ! " 

"Was it strange that in all their wanderings in pur- 
suit of the poor waif, David had never once associated 
the thought of his foundling-playmate with the object 
of their search ? And yet at that instant the veil fell 
from his eyes, and as if the heavens had flashed forth 
the mystery, he shouted back the wild cry, " She is in- 
deed here ! " 

Like a frightened fawn the young girl sprang from 
her covert of green, and stood before them in her fan- 
tastic array ! What poesy of motion — what grace of 
attitude, mingled with that expression of surprise ! The 
long shining tresses, upon which time had flung no 
shadow, fell back from the uplifted face, revealing eyes 



THE EBONY IDOL. 281 

whose strange beauty had never been erased from the 
father's heart. 

With a loud cry of exultation Mr. Arnold sprang to 
the ground, but only to fall senseless at the maiden's feet. 

Little by little sensibility returned, and David, 
whose forethought seemed to encircle all' around him, 
earnestly entreated Mary to retire. 

" Go home, Mary," he said ; " say to Squire Bryan 
that we are wishing to see him upon business of impor- 
tance, and as soon as this gentleman is recovered, we 
will join you." 

Mary flew to the cottage, but scarcely had she an- 
nounced the approach of the stranger, when the trav- 
ellers themselves appeared in the distance. 

We will not dwell upon the scene or explanations 
that followed. One proof after another of the young 
girl's identity was established, in the absence of all of 
which, the wonderful resemblance of the young girl to 
the stranger must have proclaimed to the world the re- 
lation of father and child. 

How Mary swooned, and Nannie wept, and the 
Squire rubbed his hands with delight ! While David, 
with a face whiter than the pale clematis flowers that 
still clung to Mary's tresses, stood in silent despair, as 
he beheld every vestige of his own air castles crumble 
at his feet ! 

Happy Mary ! 

Thrice happy Arnold ! 



282 THE EBONY IDOL. 

Silly Nannie and childish Squire ! 
But alas ! alas ! poor David ! 

We pass by the excitement of the villagers at the 
discovery of Mary's sudden elevation, as 

" The idle wind, which we regard not ! " 

" Such is life," soliloquized Mrs. Kimball ; " the 
world is an immense water-wheel, always revolving. 
Very comfortable when you are up — intolerable when 
you are down I " Col. Johnson and his " inestimable 
lady " were among the very first to wait upon Mary 
with their very distinguished congratulations ! "While 
Mrs. Hobbs gave vent to the fullness of her wonder in 
that old elegant exclamation, " Snooky ! " 

As for Miss Dickey, this little episode in the found- 
ling's life only established the conviction that " ungath- 
ered roses" were liable at any moment to " have some- 
thing happen to them ;" and so far as we know, is still 
awaiting the coming of the bridegroom. 

Caesar still perambulates the country, spending his 
time between lecturing and lounging, but never allows 
himself to pass the domicil of the fair Julia without 
feeling the pressure of the iron horse-shoe upon his 
breast ! 

Mr. Gary, after having effected the ruin of his 
church, accepted a " call " to a more thrifty .vineyard, 
where, it is hoped, his former experience will be of ser- 
vice to him. 



THE EBONY IDOL. 283 

We are compelled to say that, since Caesar's brief 
reign in Minden, a kind of African drought has settled 
down upon the little village. The " Monyment' 1 ' of the 
Carean African Friend's Society became so shaken and 
rent by the dissensions of the sisterhood, that it fell into 
decay, and the places that once knew it, now know it 
no more forever. The " War of Black and White 
Roses" is ended, and ebony has ceased to be the hue 
par excellence by which the standard of patriotism and 
Christianity is tried. 

Indeed, the blood of a white man in Minden is now 
considered as valuable as the blood of a black ! 

" Of terrors and fraud" they have had enough." 



THE END. 



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